A leaked document indicates Facebook has a big change planned for Messenger this year, and it's not likely to make most users happy. The social network has reached out to its biggest advertising partners to announce the impending release of ads in Facebook Messenger. The ads will be tied to conversations, so Facebook is suggesting that businesses get customers to start Messenger threads with them now.
As you can probably imagine, Facebook isn't commenting on the leaked document. This is the sort of change that requires finesse to have any hope of quelling discontent, and leaking an internal document meant for close partners is not it. The document does mention a URL shortening service (fb.com/msg/NAME) that Facebook has quietly launched, and the company has confirmed that is real. The URL makes it easier to open Messenger threads, and thus push ads.
In its alert to businesses, Facebook says that Messenger ads should carry on existing conversations, not barrage consumers with ads that will only cause them to close a thread. Messenger ads might be used to announce free gifts, limited time sales, or update someone when a product is back in stock. This sort of hyper-targeted advertising will probably come with high rates for Facebook, but will people put up with it? We'll find out when Messenger ads (probably) go live in 2Q of this year.