Telegram is an everyday app for many people. Its instant messaging features keep families, friends, and co-workers connected. According to its founder, Pavel Durov, Telegram is nearing the 500 million user milestone.
As the app continues to grow in popularity, Durov also notes that the time has come to begin monetizing it. He says, “A project of our size needs at least a few hundred million dollars per year to keep going.”
To offset things like server costs and hosting, Telegram will start to integrate ads into the app, TechCrunch reports.
The news of Telegram’s monetization shouldn’t be surprising. Since the app was launched, it has primarily been funded by Durov himself. A company FAQ page detailing how Telegram makes money says, “While Telegram will introduce monetization in 2021 to pay for the infrastructure and developer salaries, making profits will never be an end-goal for us.”
As an app like Telegram scales, the costs rise exponentially. Not only does the company need to pay its developers, it also needs to maintain servers that can support its operations. Those are big costs if the app isn’t bringing in revenue.
While Durov has been able to finance the project until now, it simply isn’t a sustainable approach. Telegram estimates that it is on track to reach billions of users. Given the company’s core values and its emphasis on providing a safe, private messaging platform, selling the app isn’t in the question.
As a result, some sort of monetization needs to take place. Durov notes that Telegram’s current size makes it possible to start generating revenue in a “non-intrusive way.”
How Telegram’s Monetization Will Work
Companies can choose to monetize their apps in a variety of ways. However, placing ads in them is by far the most common. This is the approach that Telegram will take.
It’s worth noting that the company will do so in a very refreshing way. In a blog post, Durov writes, “All parts of Telegram devoted to messaging will remain ad-free. We think that displaying ads in private one-to-one chats or group chats is a bad idea. Communication between people should be free of advertising of any sort.”
Telegram’s Twitter-like social component will also get ads. Durov says that the company is building its own Ad Platform for businesses to create one-to-many ads that are convenient and non-intrusive.
Finally, Telegram plans to roll out new advanced features for business teams and power users. Those will be available through a premium subscription. Durov notes that the revenue generated by these users will help keep Telegram free for those that only want the features that it currently offers.
So, while news of a previously free app being monetized typically makes users nervous, there should be nothing to fear from Telegram. The app will continue to operate like it always has for those that depend on it. Users should simply expect to see some ads in the app’s common areas at some point next year.