Facebook tests tool to make it easier for businesses to send message blasts on Messenger

Facebook is internally testing a tool that businesses would be able to use to send message blasts to people who had conversed with their accounts on Messenger, a Messenger spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday after TechCrunch first reported the news.

Based on screen shots published to Twitter by The Next Web’s Matt Navarra, Facebook’s tool, called Messenger Broadcast, appears to be a self-serve interface for Messenger’s weeks-old Broadcast API.

Last year, Messenger introduced a subscription feature for certain businesses, such as news publishers, to be able to send messages to multiple people simultaneously. Then, earlier this month, the Facebook-owned messaging service unveiled its Broadcast API for businesses to automate these message blasts, which are limited to only reaching people who have an open conversation with a business on Messenger. However, not all businesses may have the in-house development chops or funds to pay an outside firm to connect their Messenger accounts to the Broadcast API. That’s where Messenger Broadcast appears to come in; Messenger Broadcast is to the Broadcast API what Facebook’s Ads Manager is to its Ads API.

Speaking of ads, it’s unclear whether businesses will be able to send sponsored messages through Messenger Broadcast. According to the screen shots posted by Navarra, the messages sent through the tool would be free. That’s also the case for messages sent through the Broadcast API. However, Broadcast API messages “must be non-promotional,” according to its documentation for developers.

If and when Facebook does officially roll out Messenger Broadcast, it could opt to enable businesses to send Sponsored Messages through Messenger Broadcast, though it’s unclear why it would need to. For one thing, Sponsored Messages are effectively a paid version of the free message blasts that can be sent through Messenger Broadcast; both message types are limited to people who have previously messaged a business, though the paid version enables more refined targeting of the message’s delivery. For another, businesses can already buy Sponsored Messages through Ads Manager. Of course, that wouldn’t stop Facebook from adding a “Boost This Blast” button to Messenger Broadcast for businesses to pay to fine-tune who their messages reach.


About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.