Meta’s microblogging app Threads has taken the world by storm after launching in the US and UK. 

Just a day or two after its US launch, it registered 30 million new users, with the count currently at 100m, overtaking TikTok and ChatGPT as the fastest-growing app.

Amidst what has been described as a ‘tech feud’ between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, and a growing backlash from Twitter’s user base following controversial updates, many are already citing the potential of Threads as a rival to Twitter, with marketers keen to see the potential of this new platform.

“Twitter has always had issues as an advertising platform because they’ve never had the targeting options of platforms like Meta, LinkedIn or Google,” Sam Martin-Ross, UK managing director of international marketing agency Eskimoz, tells BusinessCloud.

“With their demographic-based targeting, or Google’s keywords, they’ve been able to outperform Twitter on an ROI for the majority of advertisers.

“Over time, we’ve seen Meta’s platform become more and more crowded with advertisers, causing rising costs, so by expanding their ad inventory, it may just enable lower costs.”

Does this mean Threads is already a viable rival to Twitter? It’s too early to tell, says Martin-Ross.

“While the growth of Threads in the US has been fascinating to witness, we also have to consider that it’s not yet available in the EU due to Meta’s cautious approach to EU privacy laws, so they’ll certainly need to overcome this before we can start speculating on it being a global rival to Twitter.”

EU concerns

Controversies around privacy concerns have plagued Meta for years, with a recent dispute seeing it hit with a record $1.3 billion fine for breaching GDPR requirements and transferring the data of EU users to the US for processing.

In response to the concerns already swelling around Threads potentially  capitalising on the health data of its users, Martin-Ross comments: “In some ways you could argue that Meta has already done enough to convince people to continue using their products, with people still willing to use WhatsApp and Instagram.”

“Given its rapid rise in the US, it would suggest that this just isn’t a huge concern to a vast majority of people. I do think that at a minimum, Meta will need to over-comply with EU privacy laws before they’re able to successfully launch in the EU.”

EU users attempting to sign up via VPN – i.e. attempting to fool the app into thinking they are based in the US or UK – have reported being blocked from doing so, which shows that Meta is being extremely cautious about its use on the continent.

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    Advertising potential

    “Ultimately, given Twitter’s less-than-stellar reputation as an advertising platform, plus the reach of the entire Meta platform, it would be easy for Meta to position Threads as a better, more effective place to advertise than Twitter,” continues Martin-Ross.

    “Additionally, being a part of the Meta ad platform will naturally make it very easy for existing Meta advertisers to launch on Threads, perhaps without even increasing their spend.”

    While in its current form, Threads is still a rather bare bones experience, lacking some of the features that Twitter users may be well-accustomed to – such as hashtags, direct messaging or trending topics – Martin-Ross believes that when it comes to ads, there is significant untapped potential.

    “While at this stage it’s still speculative, as ads are yet to be launched on the platform, Threads has the potential for new and exciting ad formats throughout the platform, enabling new and creative ways for brands and marketers to reach their audiences in a more targeted way than is currently available on Twitter.

    “Though it’s still too early to say how Threads will develop from both a paid ad and organic social perspective, it’s already shaping up to have a lot of potential for marketers – definitely one to keep an eye on.”

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