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Telegram launches sponsored messages – best online ad solution?

Disclaimer: The following opinion piece represents the personal opinions of the author.

The founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, officially announced last Friday on his channel what the company has already mentioned in recent weeks: sponsored posts, which will allow everyone to pay for advertisements on the independent social network.

But before you express your disappointment about another app getting annoying interruptions from people you don’t know or like, you might want to read on and see if for the first time, they could be very useful.

“Win-win” vs “lose-lose” advertising

Telegram, like any other business, is not a charity. He has to make money somehow and advertising is usually one of the ways to achieve this, especially to millions of users.

After its attempt to issue the “Gram” cryptocurrency was thwarted by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, there was virtually no alternative left.

But you also have to keep in mind that advertising isn’t always bad – it’s a way to get your message across to new people, who would otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach. If companies didn’t advertise they wouldn’t be able to sell a lot, so they wouldn’t be able to provide many jobs to the people who work for them either.

Therefore, as a tool, advertisements are neither good nor bad. It’s what we do with them that matters.

The most extreme example in the social media space is, of course, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg will not only allow others to push content to your personal calendar, but also interrupt you while you watch videos and have his “pixels” follow your behavior on millions of websites outside of Facebook. -same.

The company collects a mountain of data on what you do, love, read, write with, who you interact with, what you browse online stores, what you read for the news and even where you physically go with your device. mobile.

It will then slice, analyze, and deliver that data to an ever-growing group of thirsty advertisers, who can use Facebook’s aggregate knowledge about you, to deliver ads to you that attempt to steer you away from what you’ve been busy doing. . – usually to get your money by selling you something at the end of the process (often in a very deceptive way).

facebook announcement
Scams are still rife on Facebook. Here is a fake page masquerading as CNBC News, claiming that Amazon is selling a crypto token. Despite these scams that keep popping up all the time, Facebook can’t handle them / Facebook page screenshot

Google – built on advertising – isn’t much better although it at least offers an advertising solution that just shows sponsored results for the topics you’re already looking for. This way it actually helps both you and the advertisers.

This is the kind of service I would describe as “win-win”: providing advertising to consenting people, at an appropriate time, without disrupting their other activities.

However, most of the ads are very interrupted and therefore very annoying. TV commercials, radio commercials, flyers, unsolicited spam e-mails and, on the Internet, flashing banners, fake buttons and, lastly, clips that come right in the middle of an interesting video or between songs , ruining the mood of the moment.

youtube advertising
So you wanted to watch Bill Gates on YouTube, but instead you get a lady with green socks. Are you likely to deviate from what is being advertised? Only by mistake. / Screenshot from YouTube

In contrast, it is a ‘lose-lose’ way of serving ads – hoping for accidental clicks or, very often, misleading people into clicking something they never interested in in the first place. .

Some advertisers (especially dishonest ones) may find short term luck with these kinds of promotions, but in the long term they are doomed to fail.

Not only will disturbing people at an inappropriate time probably not cause them to buy anything from you, it can actually create negative associations with your brand as being intrusive or hopeless.

That said, other than search advertising, which simply broadens the options available to you, responding to whatever you’re already looking for anyway, there aren’t really any other channels that would work as usefully. for publishers and users.

Telegram could be on the verge of changing that.

When it comes to advertising, less is more

sponsored messages by telegram
Sponsored Posts / Image Credit: Telegram

With the launch of Sponsored Messages, the company has quite openly focused on things that some may consider to be a handicap.

It does not collect any personal data and does not track your behavior outside of the app. Publishers can only link to their Telegram channels or bots, not to external websites, so all interactions should take place within the app.

Additionally, promoted messages will only appear on channels with over 1000 subscribers and ONLY after the user has read all of their recently unread messages.

But what seems like a bad deal to advertisers is actually a blessing in disguise.

Since you can target users by topics or channels, it’s much easier to decide what to spend your money on.

Facebook, for example, with its abundance of options, makes it difficult for advertisers to know what’s going on. The success of campaigns is in large part due to the algorithms that determine who can potentially be your best customer, but this can require relatively high spending over extended periods of time, so that enough data can be collected to achieve this (and it there is no guarantee that it ever will).

Google’s solutions, on the other hand, are not suitable for all advertising (especially content), Twitter is limited and restrictive, as are native ad networks like Outbrain (they will gladly serve people as trash at the tabloid level but many products and topics are a no-no).

Telegram, by comparison, is both more open and simpler. Even if you fail, you fail quickly and can test faster.

And because you can target specific channels, that means you can do your own research as well, instead of relying on an opaque piece of code, while being billed for days, hoping to find some. gold at some point.

sponsored messages by telegram
Some will see the options as limited, while others see them as refreshingly simple / Image Credit: Telegram

Second, the requirement to direct people to your own channels creates a need for a stronger presence on Telegram. It’s harder to mislead users if you can’t get them outside the network to your own phishing or otherwise deceptive website.

It’s a victory for those with genuine audiences and interesting content and a victory for users, if fewer spammers seek to abuse Telegram for nefarious purposes. It is also easier for Telegram itself to moderate the ads and quickly get rid of offenders and their perpetrators.

Finally, because sponsored posts will only appear when users have read all of their pending posts on the channel, they won’t be interrupted reading or discussing anything with other people.

Ads become an addition, an extension of the experience, probably relevant to their interests and the topic of a given channel, which they run when they have nothing left to consume – which makes them more likely to interact with the message only if they were interrupted.

It’s a victory for advertisers, which increases the effectiveness of advertising, and a victory for app users, who can get helpful suggestions for following channels that may also be of interest to them.

Plus, it’s hard to overstate the importance of opening another independent, non-US advertising channel just as Bay Area Big Tech tightens its screws on what it accepts on its networks.

Telegram is certainly more committed to freedom of expression and it should be considerably easier for legitimate advertisers to promote their content, services or products on the platform than on Facebook, Google or whatever.

With the giants of Silicon Valley, your success depends on the vagaries of ever-changing guidelines and even your personal activity, as writing unpopular things can prevent your personal account from advertising on Facebook, even if your business isn’t. not related to your personal life.

That’s why I welcome the new features of Telegram both as an advertiser and as a regular user. It can turn the app from a messenger into a real social network.

Featured Image Credit: Gulte

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