What can we Learn from the Success of WhatsApp?
Before 2010, WhatsApp mobile messenger did not really count in the world of mobile messaging.
Research in Motion’s Blackberry Messenger (BBM) held sway winning the hearts and minds of personal and business mobile users.
However, eight years down the line, WhatsApp is now like the biblical ‘rejected stone’ that become the ‘capstone’. In the world of business and personal communication, WhatsApp is now the defacto currency. BBM and other apps are now in distant bottom position.
With over 1 billion daily users sending over 55 billion messages daily, the current state of WhatsApp has become a textbook case of mobile messaging success. In the midst of this resounding applause, there is an irony.
Despite its influence and widespread global usage, WhatsApp is a non-commercial concern. Since it acquired the company for $19 billion in 2010, Facebook Inc., its parent company neither makes a dime from the entity nor the app. It is worthy to note that before the company was sold to Facebook, there was a covenant of zero advertising with its founders.
Moreover, there is a wise side to this decision. WhatsApp is with no iota of doubt the largest gold mine of data about mobile users and their behaviour. With the use of artificial intelligence, Facebook Inc. can learn and mirror their pattern of usage to better the deploy advertising and commercial features for its cash cow company, Facebook and Instagram. With the knowledge pool from WhatsApp, the Facebook/Instagram team have been able to design advertising formats and features that convert better than any other network.
The result is glaring. While Google’s advertising revenue continues to decline for the past three years, Facebook’s ad revenue has seen phenomenal growth, especially on mobile. In the third quarter of 2017, Facebook reported a revenue growth of 47% year-over-year to $10.3 billion while Google reported about $27.47 billion revenue in the same quarter of 2017 but the company lamented that its revenue per click fell by over 20 percent within the quarter. On a like for like basis, Facebook makes 98 percent of its revenue from advertising while for Google, it is about 87 percent.
The case of WhatsApp shows us that companies, especially in marketing, must take research and data mining seriously as this will enable us to make better decisions and reach our marketing objectives.