Big brands like Zomato, McDonald's, Reebok, Tinder, among others are reportedly using a backdoor to push advertisements on WhatsApp. These companies are apparently relying on branded GIFs and stickers in keyboard apps to push their ads, an Economic Times report revealed.
WhatsApp does not have any advertising model in India. Its business product prohibits the spread of promotional content, restricting mass distribution of brand messages. Hence, the backdoor.
As of now, we see a lot of stickers and GIFs for various festivals and big Indian events, but the other majority GIFs have an international theme, which does not always meet local demand. Reportedly, Indian startups like Bobble AI, GifsKey, and Xploree are focusing on creating localised stickers and GIFs.
Sharadh Manian, GM at digital agency SVG Media told the publications that GIFs and stickers "adds the right kind of humour to conversations. Brands need to leverage this trend." Ankit Prasad, founder of Bobble AI, a keyboard startup further added that "[Stickers] is an entry for brands into WhatsApp as it does not allow advertising yet. Being part of daily conversations improves brand positioning."
In March last year, Google acquired GIF keyboard and search engine Tenor, which powers a variety of GIF keyboards on phones and messengers. GIF search engine Giphy is a major competitor of Tenor, and also powers many GIFs on the platform.