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BlackBerry push to monetise BBM kicks off with sponsored content in Channels

BlackBerry has started to try and generate revenue from BBM as it rolls out sponsored content to beta testers of its BlackBerry Channels service.

Related: CES 2014: BlackBerry begins rollout of BBM networking feature Channels

The Canadian company has stated the sponsored content, which comes in three different forms, will be limited to BlackBerry Channels and won’t get anywhere near BBM chats, according to The Next Web.

Featured Placements will allow BBM Channel owners to secure space on the Featured Channels tab in order to drive traffic towards the channel in question.

Sponsored Invites is designed to let channel owners invite BBM users to join the channel based on certain characteristics such as age, location and interests, with invites showing up in the sponsored invites tab in BBM. Users of BBM can either accept or decline the invite, and if it’s the latter then no more invites will be sent from that channel again. BlackBerry has stated that it will limit the amount of sponsored invites to three in any one month.

Lastly, Sponsored Posts will let BBM Channel owners put “clearly labelled” sponsored posts alongside updates from BBM contacts and BBM Channels that are already subscribed to. Users will be able to filter out these updates so that only Contacts are shown and no Sponsored Posts will show up in this instance.

BlackBerry reiterated that it won’t put “sponsored content of any kind” into BBM Chats and this is very much a case of brands and businesses being able to promote further using BBM Channels.

In addition it stated that “protecting user privacy remains a top focus” and when BBM Channels is first opened it asks for age, location, and gender, BlackBerry promising that no personally identifying information will be passed to advertisers or channel owners.

The company thinks that sponsored content is a “premier opportunity” and it will be “very strict about the amount of content we would ever allow to be pushed to our BBM community.”

Related: BlackBerry CEO: BBM to become revenue stream in coming years

BlackBerry’s latest CEO John Chen started talking up plans to monetise BBM early in his tenure as boss and the app, which saw 40 million sign ups in its first 60 days, looks the best way to ensure the company enjoys its best year for some time.