By Jonathan Vanian
August 1, 2018

Facebook is making some big steps to turn its WhatsApp chatting service into a lucrative business.

The social media giant said Wednesday it’s introducing a few ways for companies to advertise their services on the popular chatting app, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $19 billion.

The first method involves the more conventional Facebook ads display in people’s News Feeds. Now, businesses will be able to craft Facebook ads that link out to WhatsApp chat interface so if customers like a particular Facebook ad, they can more easily message the company responsible for the advertisement.

Facebook said that companies that run these particular Facebook/WhatsApp ads will also be able to measure certain stats like how “the total number of messages that people sent to your business attributed to the ads you ran on Facebook,” the company said in a corporate blog post.

Additionally, WhatsApp representatives told The Wall Street Journal that the app would start displaying online ads to its users in 2019. The monetization plans are similar to what Facebook has done with Instagram’s Stories feature, in that the ads displayed on WhatsApp’s status feature “will be powered by Facebook’s advertising system,” the Journal noted.

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The notion that Facebook is expanding its existing online advertising system to more services than its core social network is a big deal, because the company derives the bulk of its revenue from advertising.

Facebook’s latest earnings frightened investors who were concerned over its slowing user growth rate in key markets like the U.S. and Canada.

If people aren’t flocking to Facebook like they have in the past, the company could start heavily pushing into its other faster growing services like Instagram to pick up the slack.

Still, the news that Facebook has plans to monetize WhatsApp wasn’t enough to please Wall Street and make up for the past few days.

Facebook shares were relatively flat at the market’s close on Wednesday to $171.65

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