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If you’re one of BlackBerry’s extended BBM testers, you may have noticed that the Canadian company recently started pushing out sponsored content on its instant messaging platform. In a bid alleviate any potential panic around the issue, BlackBerry has written a blog post assuring BBM users that their privacy is ensured and they won’t end up with a slew of ads in their feed.
In the post, BlackBerry says that any sponsored content on BBM will only appear on official BlackBerry channels and that they are intended to help brands grow their communities. It also notes that it is not traditional advertising “by any stretch of the imagination”.
“We have discussed before that we would look at promoted content opportunities for our partners, but we have been very clear that this content will be direct, relevant, friendly and will in no way impact the chat and sharing experience,” says BlackBerry’s Jeff Gadway.
“We will not be inserting sponsored content of any kind in to BBM chats with your friends, family and colleagues,” he adds. “We understand that keeping the BBM chat experience you know and love free of this type of content is important to you”.
According to BlackBerry, there are three kinds of sponsored content on BBM:
1. Featured placements
This type of sponsored content apparently gives channel owners a secure place to promote their channels on the Featured Channels tab. This is the landing page for BBM Channels and could potentially be fairly important.
2. Sponsored Invites
This feature allows channel owners to invite people to join their channels by defining certain characteristics such as age, location and interests. These invites will apparently appear in the invites tab of BBM, clearly marked as sponsored invites.
As with invites from contacts, BlackBerry claims, BBM users will have the control to accept the invite from the channel owner (subscribing them to that channel) or decline the invite.
3. Sponsored posts
Located in the Updates tab in BBM, this feature allows channel owners to place sponsored posts alongside updates from your BBM Contacts and the BBM Channels users are subscribed to. BlackBerry insists that these posts will always be marked as sponsored.
The move into sponsored posts is undoubtedly interesting and it makes sense for BlackBerry to try find new revenue models given the massive financial difficulties it’s had in recent years. It’s worth noting however that any form of advertising is going to be fairly marginal — even with its massive user numbers, Twitter’s still battling to get the model right — so the Canadian smartphone maker really won’t find things easy with a declining user base.