WhatsApp may be the next major platform for publishers

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world — Facebook recognised its potential last February and dropped a whopping $US19 billion on it — but it also has an unexpected use case in some parts of the world.

According to data from a 2014 Reuters Institute Survey charted for us by BI Intelligence, a significant portion of WhatsApp users in Spain, Italy and Brazil report using the app to get their news, even though the average across all global markets was only 6%, or one out of 20 internet users. In some cases, like Spain, WhatsApp has even dwarfed Facebook in terms of referrals to news pages: The country’s popular soccer team, Valencia, said WhatsApp drove one-third of shares among the four sharing “buttons” listed on its site, even though the WhatsApp button only appeared on mobile.

In February, WhatsApp reported it has more than 700 million monthly active users.

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