Telegram has been known for its good user experience that it provides for users wishing to have a WhatsApp alternative. With its many user-friendly features and being ad-free, millions of users migrated to it away from Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but that migration could start to face some issues in the future.
Today, Telegram’s product manager and Co-founder Pavel Durov announced that the platform is approaching 500 million active users, and that they no longer can keep it ad-free. Starting from 2021, they will serve ads that are “user-friendly, respects privacy and allows us to cover the costs of servers and traffic”.
The nature of these “user-friendly” advertisements are still unknown as of this moment, and the Telegram team is expected to start revealing details in the next few months of 2021. It is unclear whether they will take the look of native Telegram messages, or whether some extra data-collection mechanisms are going to be introduced to target users beneficial to certain advertisers.
Beside that, the Telegram co-founder confirmed its commitment again to keep the other parts of Telegram ad-free; Private messages (from one person to another) and group chats will always remain ad-free and they will not contain ads.
Additionally, Telegram will be soon introducing some new premium features for paying customers and teams wishing to use the platform. Durov confirmed that “all currently available free features will always remain free, forever”, but some new features may be available only for paying customers.
Finally, Durov said that the owners of these public channels and premium stickers artisits may possible gain a share of the cake – though it is still unclear exactly what they will get from this – per his saying:
If Telegram starts earning money, the community should also benefit. For example, If we monetize large public one-to-many channels via the Ad Platform, the owners of these channels will receive free traffic in proportion to their size. Or, if Telegram introduces premium stickers with additional expressive features, the artists who make stickers of this new type will also get a part of the profit.
Historically, Telegram operational costs were covered by its founder, Pavel Durov, who is currently worth $3.8 billions. But looks like the increasing number of users around the world has pushed him to to plan B in order to not keep losing money.
Telegram is not fully open source; Its client-side applications (Windows, macOS, Linux, android and iOS apps) are open source only. But the server-side of it (The operational servers running the Telegram network) are closed source and proprietary. Still, many users preferred it over WhatsApp due to it being based in many countries around the world with a strong promise toward privacy and transparency.
But will serving ads in public channels in 2021 push creators and Telegram users away from it? One can only wait to find out the results of these actions, depending on how these ads are going to be displayed and served.
You can view Durov’s message from his public Telegram channel.