WhatsApp conversation based pricing changes 2023

If you are a MessageBird customer that uses WhatsApp, you will know that part of your charges is made up of “vendor fees”. This is the amount that Meta charges us for usage incurred by you that we then pass on. For WhatsApp, this is called Conversations Based pricing.

Meta has announced some important changes to conversations-based pricing that will roll out over the next few months that include changes you may need to prepare for.

There will be no changes to any other charges you receive from MessageBird for using our services and APIs.

What is happening?

New price points for business-initiated conversations 

Starting on June 1st, 2023, the current WhatsApp Conversations Based pricing model will be expanded from two chargeable conversation categories (business and user-initiated) to four. Business-initiated conversations will now fall under three categories:

  1. Utility conversations e.g. order updates, delivery updates, and other transactional use cases

  2. Authentication conversations e.g. one time passcodes (OTP) / account verification

  3. Marketing conversations e.g. promotions and offers

User-initiated conversations will be renamed to service conversations. In addition, conversations will only be charged at the service rate if you respond with free-form (non-templated) messages. Responding to customer inquiries with template messages will lead to a business-initiated conversation rate based on one of the three categories listed above.

The pricing for marketing conversations will get more expensive relative to business-initiated conversations today. The pricing for utility and authentication conversations will be slightly above the service rates.

New template categories

Currently, when creating a new WhatsApp template either through Facebook business manager, the MessageBird dashboard, or via the API you must categorize the template as either Marketing, OTP, or Transactional.

Enabling the introduction of the new business-initiated conversation categories will mean that Meta will be changing the categories supported when creating messaging templates. The new categories will be Marketing, Authentication, or Utility.

To support this MessageBird will only support these template categories when creating new templates via the Messagebird Dashboard or API from 15th March. Existing templates that use old categories will still be able to be edited using the old categories until 1st April 2023. 

As part of using template categories to enforce more granular pricing Meta will also re-categorize templates based on the content used when creating the templates. On 1st April 2023, Meta will automatically migrate any templates with any old categories and re-categorize any templates that have content that doesn’t match the selected category. 

For templates created with the new categories after 15th March if the  “allow_category_change” flag is set to true then templates will remain approved if they are re-categorized. If this is set to false then the template will be rejected. See API docs here for more details.

If you feel your template is categorized incorrectly on 1st April 2023, you will have until 15th May 2023 to appeal the decision. If you have access to the WhatsApp business manager you will be able to appeal there. If you do not you will need to contact the support team.

Free conversations for service Conversations only

Currently, all WhatsApp business accounts are entitled to 1000 free conversations per month. This can be made up of business-initiated and user-initiated conversations e.g. 300 business initiated and 700 user-initiated. From June 1st 2023 business initiated conversations will no longer qualify as part of the 1000 free monthly conversations that you are currently entitled to. Only service conversations will qualify for the 1000 free monthly conversations.

Free entry point conversations for longer

From 1st March 2023 conversations that start from a free entry point (Click to WhatsApp ads) will be free for 72 hours instead of 24 hours. This means if a customer starts a conversation from a Facebook ad a business can respond with any type of WhatsApp message (including marketing templates) for free for 72 hours. 

Multiple conversation windows are possible

One other change is - it will be possible to have multiple billable conversation windows open with a given customer if different template categories are used within a 24 period. Here are some examples:

  1. If a customer messages a business and the business responds with a free form (nontemplate message) the customer will be charged for one service-initiated conversation.

    1. If the business responds with a template message then the conversation will be charged at the business initiated (e.g. utility) not service initiated rate. This means that the conversation will also not qualify under 1000 free conversations.

    2. If the business responds with a free-form message followed by a template message the customer will be charged for two conversations; a service-initiated conversation and a business-initiated conversation (e.g. utility). 

  2. Conversation charges will be based on template categories. When a template is delivered, it opens a new conversation of that category and incurs the charge of that conversation category, unless the template is delivered during an open conversation of that category.

    1. If a business sends two marketing templates in a row then the conversation charge will apply to the first template only

    2. If a business sends a marketing template followed by a utility template then the customer will be charged for a marketing conversation and a utility conversation

    3. If the business then follows up with another marketing template within 24 hours of the first marketing message this will be included in the original marketing conversation

Useful resources

Here are some useful resources prepared by Meta that also provide additional information:

  • Launch timeline - this provides more details on some of the key events

  • Rate cards - New rate cards that will apply from June 1st can be viewed here

Key dates and what to be ready for

All dates listed are in 2023

March 1st

  • Free entry point conversations (Click to WhatsApp ads) entitle customers to free conversations for 72 hours, increased from 24 hours. In this period any type of WhatsApp message can be sent without incurring further conversation charges.

March 15th

  • Only marketing, authentication, and utility will be accepted as valid categories when creating new WhatsApp templates through the MessageBird dashboard or API. If you have an API integration please make sure that you only use these categories when creating templates and are prepared for a template containing the new categories

  • Templates created using any other category will still be available to edit as such until April 1st

April 1st

  • Only marketing, authentication, and utility will be accepted as valid categories when creating new WhatsApp templates through the WhatsApp business manager

  • Templates created with the old categories will automatically be migrated to new categories by Meta

  • Templates created with new categories may be re-categorized automatically by Meta if they determine the content of the template does not match the selected category

    • If a template with a new category was not created with the flag “allow_category_change” set to true the template will become rejected until; an appeal is successful, you change the template category, or resubmit the template with “allow_category_change” set to true

  • Templates that are re-categorized will have a new field called “previous category”

  • If you subscribe to template notifications and your template is rejected due to having an incorrect category set you will get a notification such as: 

  • Title: WhatsApp template <name> for WhatsApp Account <wabaid> has been Rejected

  • Body: Your WhatsApp template has been rejected due to INCORRECT_CATEGORY. You will need to correct the issue and resubmit for approval.

  • Severity: error

  • If you feel your template has the wrong category you will have until May 15th to appeal either via the Facebook business manager if you have access or by contacting the support team

May 1st

  • Meta will no longer support any old template categories. This change will have already been enforced by MessageBird on March 15th

May 5th

  • Any templates created with old categories will after April 1st be migrated to the new categories as above

May 15th

  • The appeals process for any templates that have been migrated to the new categories will close and appeals will no longer be possible

June 1st

  • The new Conversations Based pricing points will go live

  • 1000 free monthly conversations will only apply to user-initiated (service) conversations