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BizReport : Social Marketing : September 26, 2016

Expert: How brands can use social data

Recently, WhatsApp decided to share user data with Facebook; the implications for this can be beneficial to brands who know who to use this type of data. One expert explains.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: What are the implications of WhatsApp move?

Jason Rothman, GM Mobile + Social, SteelHouse: WhatsApp has reached a mass user base, and we're seeing an evolution in the business model to monetize those users and build an infrastructure of other capabilities and functions on top of messaging. When Facebook bought it back in 2014, WhatsApp didn't have the one billion plus users it has today - so it's a strategic move to enhance advertising measures and a step forward in finally opening WhatsApp's doors to businesses who want to connect with consumers. The reason that this is such a key move in the advertising world is that it's a solid step in the direction of contextual-based advertising. It is this type of advertising that enables more personalized and targeted ad content - something that, until recently, has not been a possible for most advertisers/brands to achieve.

Kristina: How can brands capitalize on this change?

Jason: Basically, WhatsApp has a ton of deterministic cross device user data (based on real information about users). Once combined with Facebook, that data will really enhance the already giant network of deterministic cross device user data available to advertisers and brands. For now, the data being made available via WhatsApp is only basic user metrics - and there is an opt-out option for users who are not interested in having their data shared. But the future potential for brands is huge - WhatsApp and other messaging apps could become entirely closed-loop platforms that remove all the steps of friction consumers currently experience in their digital journey. Another perk to the WhatsApp data is that it has significant penetration into other markets where Facebook does not. For example, Spain has only about 21 million Facebook users (a bit over half of their internet users) - and yet it has one of the highest penetration rates of WhatsApp in Europe. Data from WhatsApp can really make up for Facebook data that isn't as strong in certain parts of the world.

Kristina: What is the potential for chat apps as a way for merchants/brands to engage with people?

Jason: For the moment, serving actual contextual-based ads on WhatsApp is not yet possible. However, assuming that may be the case in the future (be it through WhatsApp or other messaging apps), the possibilities for brands are endless. Imagine this: two people are corresponding via a chat app and one of them suggests a desire to go shopping for high heels for an evening event. If a relevant brand/advertiser actually has access to that kind of content, they might be able to serve an ad to that user for a pair of high heels at a discounted rate. Which is now the better option for that user? Purchasing the discounted heels in app or the great unknown of a weekend shopping excursion? It's a win-win for both brands and consumers. That's the type of advertising the future holds for brands and the type of brand engagement consumers can actually appreciate.

Tags: advertising, social commerce, social data, social marketing, SteelHouse

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