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WhatsApp's new status updates an opportunity for ad placement, say tech experts

WhatsApp's new status updates an opportunity for ad placement, say tech experts

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WhatsApp users can now take charge of who can view their status updates, after the instant messaging app has unveiled a set of new features to status on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp status is a feature that allows users to share ephemeral updates with friends and close contacts. They disappear in 24 hours and may include attachments such as photos, videos, GIFs and text. The feature is protected by end-to-end encryption so users can share privately and securely.

The new set of features aims to help users express themselves freely and connect with others. These updates have started rolling out to users globally and will be available to all users in the coming weeks.

whatsapp new feature cap

Within the new features, "private audience selector" provides users with the flexibility to update their privacy settings per status so they can choose who views their status each time they update it. The most recent audience selection will be saved and used as the default for users' next status.

WhatsApp is also introducing the ability to record and share voice messages up to 30 seconds on WhatsApp status. Voice status can be used for sending more personal updates, especially if users feel more comfortable expressing themselves by talking rather than typing.

Status reactions comes next to provide a quick and easy way for users to respond to status updates from their friends and close contacts. "This was the #1 feature users wanted, following the launch of Reactions last year. You can now quickly reply to any status by swiping up and tapping on one of eight emojis. You can of course still reply to a status with text, voice message, stickers and more," the statement read. 

Don't miss: WhatsApp defends itself against 'data leak' allegations made by media report

Referencing from Instagram Stories, the new status profile ring WhatsApp has introduced will be present around users' contact’s profile picture whenever they share a status update. It will be visible in the chat lists, group participant lists, and contact info.

Furthermore, when WhatsApp users post a link on their status, they will automatically see a visual preview of the link content. "Visual previews make your statuses look better, and also give your contacts a better idea of what the link is before they click," said the statement.

Commenting on the new features, Francis Fong, honorary president of the Hong Kong Information Technology Federation believed WhatsApp's move aims to expand further into the social media sector. “Meta wants to merge the WhatsApp status sharing function with Facebook and Instagram, just as how users can share stories cross-platform at the same time.”

Fong also believed that WhatsApp’s ultimate goal is to launch advertisement in the app, just as Facebook messenger. However, many users nowadays treat WhatsApp as an instant messenger. "Less people use WhatsApp status features to share their status, therefore WhatsApp needs to work harder on advancing its other functions such as sending large attachments, which users can already do so on Telegram," he added. In terms of security and privacy, Fong said popular instant messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram had similar security levels, therefore, it would no longer be a deciding factor for users.

Meanwhile, Ken Cheung, digital director at KREW DIGITAL, said, "WhatsApp should be a closed loop product so its difficult to make profits via ad placement. This move, I guess, is to let the closed loop to 'open' a bit to let users share  updates hence Meta can insert ads in between to get profits. This move can make WhatsApp equip with more features and can provide a new reason for people to use this conversation app instead of other competitors."

On a social media front, Xen Chia, strategic marketing director of Xgate, said that adding new features is good extension to existing WhatsApp functions. "While they claimed in their blog that the Status Reactions with emoji is the most desired feature, it seems similar to what Instagram already has. However, Voice Status is probably more interesting and can inspire creativity for many people. Imagine a voice message such as 'I am trying to avoid someone, and if I don't reply your WhatsApp, you know it’s you.'"

"I do wonder how many people will be excited about sharing statuses on WhatsApp. Over the years, it has become a utility app for personal and business communications. I think status update and emojis may work against its appeal or have little impact to influence current user behaviour," he added. 

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