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.
New! Facebook is preparing a “Messenger Broadcast” feature for business Pages
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) October 27, 2017
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.