Facebook Debuts Messenger Ads: What Pharma Marketers Should Know


Facebook is expanding onto the home screen of its instant messaging app, Messenger. This new placement allows advertisers to reach customers in their Messenger inbox, in between their most recent conversations with friends, bots, and brands.

Ads in Messenger is managed along with Facebook’s Newsfeed and Right Column ad placements, within Facebook’s Power Editor and Ads Manager. When an advertiser goes to create an ad with a Traffic or Conversion objective, they will have the ability to choose the home page of Messenger as an ad placement, along with other locations on Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network. The same robust targeting that is applicable to current ad placements will be available to advertisers for Ads in Messenger as well.

This placement can be selected in conjunction with Facebook’s Newsfeed, but is currently not available as a standalone ad placement. Messenger is also included as part of automatic placements, an option that allows you to take advantage of every ad placement available.

Messenger Ads can be used to drive users offsite to learn more about your brand or as a catalyst to initiate a conversation within Messenger.

David Marcus, Facebook’s VP/head of Messenger, recently told Business Insider that conversations between users and companies inside Messenger have a 30% better return on investment than retargeting ads on the web. Included in Messenger’s suite of ad products you will also find Sponsored Messages, which allow businesses to re-engage with people who have already started a conversation with them.

Applications in Pharma

This new ad placement could present opportunities for pharma to tap into Messenger’s 1.2 billion monthly active users, grabbing their attention when they visit their inbox to converse with friends, and leading them offsite to learn more about your brand.

Another application of this ad format is to facilitate private conversation between a branded bot or company customer-service agent and your user base. This interaction can lead to more Facebook users chatting and receiving resources about their disease state and treatment options, as well as to help users to feel more familiar and comfortable with interacting with pharma brands.

Along with this, ads in Messenger that lead to conversations will help to keep your brand top of mind with patients, for consumer-targeted campaigns, or with HCPs when accompanied by Facebook’s verified HCP targeting, to ensure you are reaching only pre-qualified HCPs. While a digital ad may pique a user’s interest, online and real life distractions can take your audience away from that message, leading to a need to continue to retarget them elsewhere. When you engage with users through chat, they can resume that interaction with you at any time. The conversation will live in their inbox as a constant reminder of your brand.


With the inundation of messages all across the web, getting yours in front of your key audiences and getting their attention is important now more than ever. Ads in Messenger provide a unique opportunity to grab the attention of users in a location where the ad placement is fresh. Users have not had the chance to become numb to promotional messaging in this space, leading them to be more likely to stop to see what you have to say.

As part of your Facebook advertising strategy, we recommend taking advantage of this additional social ad real estate and testing to see how your ads resonate with your audience in this new location.