Meta Launches AI-Powered Ads and Business Chatbot on WhatsApp, Integrates Brazil’s PIX Payment System

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Meta has introduced a new AI-powered advertising program on WhatsApp, aiming to generate revenue from the widely-used messaging platform, the company revealed during a conference in Brazil on Thursday.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, unveiled the new features through a video presentation at the event.

This development represents a significant pivot for WhatsApp, which is known for its strong privacy protections and has traditionally avoided the targeted advertising that supports Meta’s other applications like Facebook and Instagram.

In recent years, Meta has steadily integrated commerce and payment features into WhatsApp, adding “business messaging” capabilities. These enhancements enable companies to manage customer service communications and send marketing materials to users who have shared their phone numbers.

Before this innovation, these tools allowed for broad messaging to all subscribers. The latest AI enhancements, however, will tailor messages based on user behavior observed on Facebook and Instagram, targeting those most likely to respond, assuming they have registered the same phone number across these platforms.

Guilherme Horn, WhatsApp’s head of strategic markets, told Reuters that these AI tools would enable businesses to more effectively target ads, optimizing the reach to users more inclined to engage, which is crucial as businesses are paying for these messages.

Despite WhatsApp’s extensive user base and the hefty $22 billion paid for its acquisition in 2014, it has only contributed a minimal amount to Meta’s overall revenue. This new initiative is part of Meta’s broader strategy to monetize the platform.

Additionally, at the conference, Meta introduced a new AI chatbot designed to handle business inquiries within chats, marking an early attempt to meet Zuckerberg’s aim of shifting business communications to automated systems.

The chatbot is set to help with routine queries, such as accessing catalogs or checking business hours, similar to other AI customer service technologies currently available.

Meta also announced the integration of PIX, Brazil’s instant digital payment system, into the WhatsApp payment service. PIX accounted for about 39 percent of all Brazilian transactions last year and provides functionalities comparable to those of WhatsApp’s payment services, including transfers between individuals and business purchases.

This follows WhatsApp’s expansion into similar payment services in India last year.

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