Facebook’s Getting All Up in Your Messenger

Well, at least they know they’re annoying. According to Patrick Kulp writing in Mashable, “an exec at the social network said Tuesday that it plans to roll out ads to the Messenger home screen worldwide by the end of the year after testing them in Australia and Thailand earlier this year.”

He continues: “The company plans to gradually wean them in as to avoid annoying users with a flood of new ads.”

The problem, for Team Z, is real estate. As Kulp underscores, they’ve already saturated the newsfeed as much as possible without completely driving users away (well, some users anyway…we’ve been gone for a long time now).

“The space represents some of the last remaining untapped real estate for advertising as Facebook works to keep up its constant growth without smothering its users,” Kulp notes. “Analysts believe the company may be nearing the point where it will start to really feel the squeeze of those constraints.

Now, we get it; this is a free platform for users, and they need to make money somehow. Yet with increasing concerns about online privacy, and specifically previous problems with Messenger, this doesn’t do a lot to raise consumer confidence.

But hey, at least they’re trying not to be annoying.

On the publisher side, there’s news afoot that FB is going to let readers subscribe to publications through Instant Articles. (Instant Articles, from which a large number of publishers are backing away, saying it’s just not working for them.)

“Nothing’s final, but the current thinking is that it will support publications with metered paywalls and freemium models,” writes Lucia Moses in Digiday.

“These options would seem to accommodate metered publications including Facebook skeptic The New York Times; and The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, which make a certain selection of articles free and put the rest behind a paywall,” Moses continues.

Details remain sketchy, Moses notes, including details of how payments will be handled, how much of a cut FB will take for its part, and if publishers will have transparent access to user data like reading history, important for being able to tailor offers effectively.

Publisher reaction is lukewarm at best, in large part thanks to overall industry skepticism about the advantage of being on Instant Articles in the first place.

“We’ve been briefed and are continuing to evaluate if we’re going to participate,” said a senior executive at The New York Times. “So far, we don’t see any great upside.”

Not a ringing endorsement, by any means.

Watch for Facebook to start rolling out tests of this idea later this year, with more widespread adoption by 2018.