Meta’s WhatsApp launches new AI tools for businesses

By Dani Morera and Andre Romani

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Meta launched its first AI-driven ad targeting program for businesses on WhatsApp, according to a press release Thursday, as it tries to wring revenue out of the popular chat service, the company announced at a conference in Brazil.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new tools in a video which was exhibited during the event.

The announcement marks a shift for WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging service that heavily touts its privacy credentials and has long eschewed the types of targeted advertising tools that underpin Meta’s other apps, like Facebook and Instagram.

The social media giant has been introducing commerce and payment features on the app for several years, including “business messaging” tools companies can use to conduct customer service chats and send marketing materials to people who have shared their phone numbers with them.

Previously, those tools were blunt instruments, used to send blasts to all users who had opted in to receiving the company’s outreach. The new AI tools will use behavior on Facebook and Instagram to target the messages to those customers most likely to be receptive to them, provided the customers use the same phone number across accounts.

(Reporting by Andre Romani and Dani Morera in Sao Paulo; Writing by Katie Paul in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis)