WhatsApp? Monetizing data. That’s what’s up!


$19 billion!??!?!?!!?

That’s what I first thought when I heard about the WhatsApp acquisition and to be quite honest – I’m still thinking that. How in the hell are you going to monetize a messaging service?!!?!?  You can’t charge for it? It’s free now and the barriers to leave the service are nonexistent. (500k users left the first day after the announcement.)

Well, I ‘m here to tell you that they will be monetizing the service by monitoring conversations and then presenting you with advertising when you’re on the Facebook app, Instagram and eventually Facebook Paper. You may have noticed I didn’t mention Facebook.com. There is a good reason for that.

Facebook, who waited 2 years to put a mobile application out, completely understands user behavior and the inexorable push towards apps that embody primary consumer behaviors. Such as:

  • Content creation/sharing = Instagram
  • Content consumption = Facebook Paper
  • Messaging = Facebook Messenger + WhatsApp

Facebook is splintering into a series of apps because of this shift in consumer behavior. They have to, but this also puts them head-to-head with competing apps. Which is why, WhatsApp was acquired. Still not sure about the whole $19 billion part.

By Michael Myers

I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.