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Brands find a backdoor to advertise on WhatsApp

Top consumer companies such as Tinder, McDonald’s, Tide, Reebok and Zomato are finding a backdoor to advertise on WhatsApp, the most-used messaging app, through fun and quirky stickers and GIFs.

These companies hope to make their presence felt through branded GIFs and stickers that will be made available through keyboard applications that people can download, access and add stickers and GIFs to their messages.

“These formats come from the idea that communication should be informal, casual and emotionally connected.

It adds the right kind of humour to conversations. Brands need to leverage this trend. We do two to three campaigns every month on stickers and GIFs, but budgets are very small,” said Sharadh Manian, GM at digital agency SVG Media.

WhatsApp has about 350-400 million users in India with no advertising model. Its business product prohibits spread of promotional content, restricting mass distribution of brand messages.

“People in India want conversational content. If you see the student population, they talk in stickers. It is an entry for brands into WhatsApp as it does not allow advertising yet. Being part of daily conversations improves brand positioning,” said Ankit Prasad, founder of Bobble AI, a keyboard startup that works with brands to make personalised stickers and GIFs. It claims to have 5 million daily active users.

Until now, stickers and GIFs have had international themes, which are not able to meet local demand. Indian startups such as Bobble AI, GifsKey and Xploree have become the primary sources of localised stickers and GIFs, apart from dozens of applications available on app stores. “We are thinking of making stickers for brands that go well with different festivals or occasions.

For example, a sweet company may want to create a sticker for Diwali. Viral content is always helpful for brands,” said Bhawna Bansal, founder at Stickotext.

Google acquired Tenor, which powers a variety of GIF keyboards on phones and messengers, last year.

GIF search engine giant Giphy is one of the major competitors of Tenor. In China, GIFs and stickers have been very popular on applications like WeChat.

In India, as the trend is still picking up, most brands are experimenting with the format as it is yet to be proven. Companies are launching these campaigns from their experimental budgets.

“If a brand wants to be part of a conversation, it has to be smooth, not intrusive.

I think it has potential for brands who have a heart and tone of voice, who are fun brands,” said Syed Hasan, A&B Advertising. “However, the kind of budgets that are being put behind these are minuscule

( Originally published on Jul 14, 2019 )

What is the impact of the Facebook hack on you?

Facebook announced on Friday that hackers decamped with personal details of 50 million users. Here’s why it matters to you.

1.What happened to my Facebook account?

Facebook has a ‘view as’ feature that lets users see what their profile looks like when other people view them. In July 2017, Facebook created a new video upload functionality on the ‘view as’ feature that was exploited by hackers. The vulnerability combines three distinct bugs that was exploited by hackers, who got the ‘access token’ to enter accounts of 50 million users, possibly 90 million, gaining access to private messages, posts and pictures.

The hacking was revealed by Facebook on Friday. There is also a possibility that the hack could have affected third-party applications, for instance, Tinder and Swiggy, that you might have logged into via Facebook.

2.Has Facebook done anything about it?

If you were one among the affected accounts (or suspected accounts), Facebook has already logged you out. Close to 90 million users have been logged out of their current sessions. So, the next time you use Facebook, you have to login again. Facebook has informed law enforcement agencies in the US about the hack and are currently investigating it.

3. What is an access token? Does this mean my password has been compromised?

No, your password has not been compromised.

Access tokens allow people to log into another app using Facebook and are uniquely generated for the specific person and app. For instance, say you have a Gmail account. You type in your username and password, and click enter. After this step, an access token will be generated — it is a digital key that is generated for every new login — that then allows you to access your Gmail.

If you log out of Gmail and try to log in again, a new access token will be generated. In Facebook’s case, hackers found a way to directly get your access token, bypassing the need to know your username or password. It does not matter even if you have a two-factor authentication where you have to enter the OTP sent to your mobile to login to Facebook. This hack bypasses everything.

4.What data have the hackers taken?

Facebook has not shared what kind of data has been accessed by the hackers. These ‘tokens’ were used to access posts, private messages or let the hacker post anything through the accounts. The hackers have also tried accessing profile information like name, gender, location and photos from the compromised accounts. More importantly, Facebook confirmed that hackers could have accessed any third-party account that you had logged into via Facebook. For instance, if you had logged into a third-party apps like Tinder, the hacker could have gained access to your Tinder profile. It is unclear if the hackers actually accessed such data at the moment.

5.What do I do now?
Log out of all websites and services that you have used Facebook to log in to. Instead of logging in with Facebook, Google or Twitter, it is better to create a separate login (and different password) to all these sites.Use a password manager like Lastpass to store all your different passwords.