Marketers Lean In As First-Ever Sponsored Ad Appears On Threads

There’s no doubt  Meta’s new Twitter competitor Threads is the talk of the town -- the new kid on the block who somehow showed up to school and within one week made over 100 million friends. But with all of its mounting popularity, what opportunities does Threads actually offer to brands?

According to a recent tweet by Zuckerberg, Meta won’t be monetizing the platform for quite some time: “Our approach will be the same as all our other products: make the product work well first, then see if we can get it on a clear path to 1 billion people, and only then think about monetization.”

Yet, over the weekend, Threads featured a "Hulu Partner" post from Hulu and content creators Adam Rose promoting the space-comedy series "Futurama."

Maybe Meta is even more reliant on advertising than we thought, or maybe it’s simply testing out sponsored posts to inform its future ads program. It’s too early to tell what this will look like, though it’s clear that brands are chomping at the bit.

In an effort to understand how the fastest-growing app in history works, brands spanning CPG, lifestyle, media and retail are readying themselves on Threads and building their reach organically.

The first among them are Rare Beauty, William Sonoma, Pretty Little Thing, Gymshark, ASOS and JD Sports.

As for publishers, users will see the profiles of Vogue, Vice, LadBible, The Economist, The Hollywood Reporter, and Rolling Stone.

While Hulu has scored some kind of ad deal with Threads, competing streaming platform Netflix was granted early access to the app in beta stage.

Molly Lopez, founder and CEO of Sparo Marketing, told one publication she’s seen brands using similar strategies they used on Twitter, with some offering users incentives to grow their follower bases. For example, Anthropologie and SlimJim are giving away gift cards and follow-for-follow promises to those engaging in early posts.

With users currently enjoying the lack of ads on Threads, Meta may have to transition into monetization efforts strategically, so as not to annoy early converts or scare off potential ones. 

What’s truly scary, however, is how seamless Meta has made the Instagram-adjacent onboarding process, especially when we think of how much control it already has over the attention and data of the world’s population.

Even though Threads is live in 100 countries, it still awaits launch in the EU due to concerns about adhering to data-privacy regulations.

Still, for marketers, the platform looks like a win.

“Threads still has a long road ahead to scale and retain an audience, integrate new features, and eventually monetize through advertising,” wrote Forrester principal analyst Kelsey Chickering. “The easiest part for Meta will be monetizing Threads because if there’s one thing the company excels at, it’s advertising.

“Twitter’s reach and growth trajectory aren’t notable,” Chickering added. “And advertisers haven’t seen great performance with their lower-funnel advertising. Meta’s advertising backbone will position Threads as a strong Twitter alternative because it will be set up to slip into Meta’s dynamic actions and deliver results across the customer lifecycle.”

And Twitter –– which is likely in full panic mode (see its threatened lawsuit against Meta) –– has beat out Threads in one disturbingly predictable way. It recently received a full-fledged endorsement from a senior Taliban official, who confidently stated that Elon Musk’s app has two major advantages over Threads and the “intolerant politics of Meta”: “freedom of expression” and “credibility.”

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