A couple of days ago, it was revealed that Safaricom was in the process of supplementing its popular M-PESA super-app with ads.
The development, of course, was greeted by public uproar, but it was for good reason.
Look, we’re used to in-app additions in the form of sponsored posts or auto-play banners or videos.
However, this is not the case for the M-PESA application.
I say this because the ads are already here, and this is how they run.
First of all, the M-PESA application is packed with many features.
One of the features is called mini-apps, which are travel, lifestyle, and utility apps that are part of the M-PESA app. This means that you can access services like Pro Gas to buy a cylinder of gas or BuuPass to reserve a ticket to your next local destination without downloading / accessing their individual apps from their respective websites.
The mini apps are also huge because Safaricom is selling them to services that want their apps to be connected to the M-PESA app, considering that the mobile money tool has received over 1.4 million downloads.
No other Kenyan app has accomplished such a feat.
Now the ads, in this case, are kind of little banners near the top of the app’s home screen.
They have been created to match the general theme of the application and if you are not interested you may think that they are part of the application.
Safaricom announced that this is the model it is going to take in terms of showing ads to customers.
Specifically, if a mini app wants more visibility, then its owners basically pay the operator to have their service displayed on the home screen.
This is not the same as the annoying ads that we see in the applications at the bottom of our screens, or those that force you to watch a certain promotional video before you can proceed to complete a certain task.
Of course, Safaricom knows this, that if it were to adopt the latest advertising model, it would alienate the users it needs to keep the app growing.
So far, we have seen two types of ads: one that informs users that they can Fully Airtime natively without using a third-party solution, such as Pay Bill numbers, and another BuuPass promotional agreement that allows customers to book a local flight for just KES. 1000 (remember that seats are limited so don’t worry if you haven’t been able to reserve one).
Also, if you want, you can close the ads so that the app doesn’t show them to you the next time you open it.
Not so bad, is it?