Anonymous Telegram users in anticipation of monetisation

Anonymous Telegram users in anticipation of monetisation
Photo: ixbt.com

“Telegram is here to stay for a long time”

Telegram will start to be monetised thanks to additional premium features. The messenger’s founder Pavel Durov mad such a statement on 23 December. Previously, he had allegedly been paying for the companies’ bills from his own savings (including with the money he received after selling his share of Vk.com), but growth of users leads to corresponding costs. According to Durov, now the company has only two solutions: “to be sold to a bigger player, like another messenger — WhatsApp did, or start making money.

“As Telegram approaches 500 million active users, many of you are asking the question — who is going to pay to support this growth? After all, more users mean more expenses for traffic and servers. A project of our size needs at least a few hundred million dollars per year to keep going,” Durov noted in his statement.

According to Durov, now the company has only two solutions: “to be sold to a bigger player, like another messenger — WhatsApp did, or start making money. Photo: ixbt.com

He says he immediately brushed off the idea of selling the company and noted that “Telegram is here to stay for a long time”. This is why the only option is monetisation: “We will do it in accordance with our values and the pledges we have made over the last 7 years. Thanks to our current scale, we will be able to do it in a non-intrusive way. Most users will hardly notice any change”.

We should add that Telegram announced another novelty on 23 December — it launched Voice Chats where thousands of participants can take part at the same time.

Public activist and author of several Telegram channels Kristina Potupchik talked about the news. She named the monetisation an interesting step and separately mention the ad platform:

“The accent is made on additional features for business accounts and ad exchange. And if everything is more or less clear about the first point, the new ad platform for channels will certainly influence today’s existing ad market.

Whether this is for the worse or better will depend on a million conditions. But firstly, on the mechanics of the exchange. Clearly, clients who don’t like the tag #ad will anyway stay. Clearly, the ‘grey zone’ of order placement won’t disappear anywhere because of the appearance of the exchange. Clearly, it was an expected step.”

Potupchik wondered if there would be benefit from the transition to exchange and what benefit it would be: “Why, for instance, will the ‘ad platform’ be needed and how can it attract advertisers if established mechanisms of communication with owners of channels on such issues already exist today? How can it be realised?”

“In general, considering the huge grey, while and black economy around Telegram, it is strange for the company not to earn money on its own,” the Telegram channels of Roem.ru comments briefly.

A Telegram channel about the music industry Rusproducer also pays attention to the fact that Durov’s another brainchild — Vk.com — took this path a long time ago.

“The news about Telegram’s monetisation is critical for the Russian industry because Telegram became a kind of ‘alternative Internet’ a long time ago, one can find almost any information without leaving the messenger. I remember all musicians complain when Vk’s targeted advertising began to be launched: ‘Phew, it is for commerce, we have nothing to do here’. Now it is in general hard to image a Russian-speaking release without promo with the help of targeted advertising.”

“We are all waiting for this with a certain fear”

Media researcher and secretary of Russia’s Union of Journalists Yuliya Zagitova noted she at the moment didn’t understand how money would be earned because it always has several ways and named it justified. However, some of the possible ways of monetisation can be a sentence for the messenger.

“The first path is when a ‘smart’ feed appears and creates algorithms for the whole process, that’s to say, you will see the content you watch the most. As I understand, this will kill the messenger right away. This is why I hope this won’t happen. Secondly, it is possible catalogues and exchanges of channels, which doesn’t seem to be very good for me either, and this is seen in Vk.com’s case when the exchange of communities is having hardships now, and the social network is also changing its approach to monetisation,” she said and noted that she didn’t understand the way Telegram’s ad platform would function.

According to Zagitova, it is time for the platform to change: “He (Durov) is going to change Telegram and preparing us for this. Like other social networks, we perfectly know and all these changes have a downside when a user or creator of contents feels inconveniences... of course, now the platform has to change, and it is necessary to legalise all revenue the messenger has... We are all waiting for this with certain fear because we know how this happens in other places.”

Tatarstan media manager Yaroslav Muravyov talked with Realnoe Vremya and noted that it was asked a long time ago how the messenger earned money, and now the question has been answered. But he warned that the appearance of monetisation does not always influence the development of content in a good way.

“Let’s say, with the coming of targeted advertising in social networks, both on Vk.com and Instagram, the role admins, those who work with content, decreased because if earlier they had to communicate with those who created content, now an audience can be found thanks to targeted advertising. This is why I don’t know how Telegram will work here, but this has a risk that monetisation for content makers can collapse,” Muravyov noted.

An expert in digital economy, Director of Digital Platforms ANO Arseny Sheltsin said that the monetisation is a forced measure because Telegram costs huge money a year.

“Because it not only sends SMS when signing up like it was at the dawn of WhatsApp, it was the most expensive cost of the company, while the rest wasn’t so expensive because text messages themselves could be compacted and stored, they occupy little space in servers. Telegram chose another model, it gave people access to upload big files, simply documents and photos and, consequently, it takes big cloud capacities to store it all. One has to pay for it all,” he noted.

According to him, the optimal option is when users will receive additional features. He put an example of WhatsApp that tried to launch a premium subscription and provides Facebook data to show users ads: “They are rather annoying than pleasant.”

By Daria Pinegina