BlackBerry Messenger is one of the best things BlackBerry has going for it right now. With well over 80 million active users across three major mobile platforms, it's among the most valuable assets the struggling Waterloo-based smartphone maker possesses.
So naturally BlackBerry is looking to monetize BBM and one way of doing that is ads. Of course, this has prompted concern from users. So Jeff Gadway, the head of product and brand marketing for BBM, wrote a blog post detailing how ads in the app will work.
"Since introducing BBM Channels we’ve been transparent about our intent to work with brands and businesses to build their communities and provide a new social network for engagement with those communities," writes Gadway. "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."
According to Gadway, BlackBerry "will not be inserting sponsored content of any kind in to BBM chats with your friends, family and colleagues."
Instead, there will be three ways BlackBerry will be promoting BBM Channels content in BBM. Here they are, in Gadway's own words:
1. Featured Placements
BBM Channel owners will have the ability to secure space on the Featured Channels tab to help promote their channel. As this is the landing page for BBM Channels, it is a great place for channel owners to promote their channel to millions of highly engaged and active customers.
2. Sponsored Invites
By defining certain characteristics like age, location and interests, channel owners can "invite" select BBM users to join their channel. These invites will appear in the invites tab of BBM, clearly marked as sponsored invites. As with invites from contacts, 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
Just as we give BBM users control over their privacy and contact list, we’re extending this control to which channel owners are able to present sponsored content in your updates feed. Allow me to explain. Let’s say you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan and you are presented with a sponsored update from a competing hockey team. You can easily block future sponsored updates from this other team. The benefit to you, the user is clear – you won’t see sponsored updates from channels you’re not interested in. But the benefit also extends to channel owners as well as they won’t be wasting time and resources reaching uninterested BBM users.
Finally, Gadway touched on privacy.
"As we introduce new ways to help connect BBM Channels users with channel owners, protecting user privacy remains a top focus," he writes. "We know that privacy and control are two of the reasons you love and choose BBM. We use the information you provide when you first open BBM Channels (age, location, gender) to help personalize your BBM Channels experience. At no time is personally identifiable information about any BBM Channel user viewable by any channel owners or advertisers."