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BlackBerry confirms sponsored content in BBM Channels, promises no ads in BBM chats and to respect user privacy

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BlackBerry recently started to push sponsored content to some of its external beta testers, but after users started to notice, the Canadian company has decided to set the record straight. Ads will be limited to BlackBerry Channels, to help brands drive community growth, will not touch BBM chats, and BlackBerry promises it will respect user privacy.

BlackBerry further says sponsored content is a “premier opportunity” and it will be “very strict about the amount of content we would ever allow to be pushed to our BBM community.” That being said, there are three ways that BBM Channels sponsored content will be promoted in the BBM app:

  1. Featured Placements: BBM Channel owners will have the ability to secure space on the Featured Channels tab to help promote their channel. This is the landing page for BBM Channels and will likely be considered prime real estate.
  2. Sponsored Invites: Channel owners can invite BBM users to join their channel by defining certain characteristics like age, location, and interests. These invites will appear in the invites tab of BBM marked as sponsored invites. As with invites from contacts, BBM users can accept the invite from the channel owner (subscribing them to that channel) or decline the invite. If a BBM user declines an invite they will not receive invites from that channel again. BlackBerry will further limit these invites to a maximum of three per month.
  3. Sponsored Posts: Within the Updates tab in BBM, BBM Channel owners will be able to place “clearly labeled” sponsored posts alongside updates from BBM Contacts and already subscribed BBM Channels. BlackBerry will dynamically determine how frequently Sponsored Posts appear in the Updates feed. Users will also be able to filter updates to only show Contacts, so they won’t see any Sponsored Posts.

While that doesn’t sound that great, BlackBerry does have some good news: the company promises not to insert “sponsored content of any kind” into BBM chats. This is all about BBM Channels, which only include brands and businesses.

Last but not least, the Canadian company emphasizes that “protecting user privacy remains a top focus.” When you first open BBM Channels, you’re asked for your age, location, and gender. The company promises that such personally identifiable information will not be viewable by any channel owners or advertisers.

In short, BlackBerry is finally trying to monetize its messaging platform. The company is working to find the tricky balance between what users want with what advertisers want, but BBM is no longer the dominating player that can afford mistakes.

See also – BM is getting photo sharing in multi-person chats, support for sharing larger files, and bigger emoticons

Top mage Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Published March 4, 2014 — 21:47 UTC