BlackBerry is trying out advertising via sponsored content on its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messaging app. Currently in beta testing among select users, the move will see BlackBerry monetize the free app and attempt to maintain a clean user experience for BBM users.
Subsequently, through word of mouth and ill-informed rumours that BBM ads will invade BBM chats. I an official blog post, the head of product and brand marketing for BBM, Jeff Gadway, went to great lengths to diffuse the misunderstanding, and revealed several things about advertising on BBM.
Firstly, Gadway reiterated that ads will not appear on users’ conversation windows. Instead, these ads will appear as “sponsored content” appearing on the Featured Channels tab on BBM Channels, helping them gain valuable eyeball time among the BBM Channels community. The other monetization method BlackBerry is offering is once again via BBM Channels: channel owners can “invite” BBM users to join their channel, based on readily available characteristics such as gender, age, location and interests. These invites, Gadway continues, will be clearly marked as “sponsored”, and BBM users will have the final say whether to accept or decline the invite.
Finally, the last mode of advertising offered by BlackBerry is “sponsored posts”. Not unlike Facebook and Twitter’s variant, these posts will appear on the “Updates” tab on BBM Channels alongside other updates from user-subscribed BBM Channels. Again, these posts will be clearly marked as a sponsored post for greater transparency for users.
Naturally, BlackBerry is also giving users more choice in seeing what sponsored content they’d like to see. In addition to a strict selection policy on which brands can advertise on BBM, users can also block specific sponsored posts – but there’s no way to completely remove these ads from BBM.
For now, sponsored ads on BBM remains in external beta testing, and there is no confirmation yet on when it will be released for all BBM users.