Facebook is launching a “very small test” in Australia and Thailand enabling businesses to place ads on the Messenger home screen, while Snapchat-like Stories are being piloted in its core social networking app.

Messenger ads
In a blog post, product manager Eddie Zhang clarified that no one will see an ad in a conversation without first clicking on an ad on the Messenger home screen or starting a conversation with a brand, adding that “these test ads won’t originate in your conversations”.

Advertisers will not be able to message users directly unless a person starts the interaction.

The test group will start to see these ads in the coming weeks, and will have the option to hide or report them.

Zhang said the proposition is a “lightweight, relevant and useful approach” to helping people and businesses connect.

“For the Messenger community, it may enhance the discovery of new experiences to make it seamless to interact with businesses on their terms. For businesses, it could offer a new way to surface their products and services to current and potential customers,” he wrote.

More than 1 billion messages are sent between people and businesses on Messenger each month.

According to TechCrunch, the ads take up a lot of screen space on the homescreen, making Messenger “less user-friendly, as you have to scroll past these large, hard-to-ignore ads” in order to use key features.

Facebook Stories
A new offering called Facebook Stories, which is pretty much the same as Instagram Stories (which, in turn, is very similar to a Snapchat feature), is being tested in Ireland, with plans to bring it to more countries in the coming months, Business Insider reported.

Photos and videos with selfie and geo filters are added to a slideshow which disappears after 24 hours. Facebook is giving Stories prominent placement at the top of its app, just like in Instagram.

“We want to make it fast and fun for people to share creative and expressive photos and videos with whoever they want, whenever they want,” the social giant said in a statement

150 million people already use Instagram Stories every day, a total around the same size as Snapchat’s user base.

Facebook announced earlier this month that it is now possible to run full screen ads in Instagram Stories.

Other moves made by Facebook to compete with Snapchat include masks for Facebook Live and an app for emerging markets called Flash.