Meta’s Threads expected to have ads this year

Marketers get ready: ads are coming to Threads a lot sooner than expected. 

The tech platform recently told ad execs that they will be able to buy ads on its X-rival, text-based platform as early as the second half of this year, industry sources have told Digiday.

It would be Meta’s latest bit of ad real estate just over a year after the launch of Threads. Though details on how these ads will be integrated remain unclear. Meta’s discussions have largely centered on the rollout timeline rather than the detailed logistics of the ad placements, according to Digiday’s interviews with four advertising executives.

One of those ad execs, who agreed to speak to Digiday candidly in exchange for anonymity, said that beta testing for ad options would likely be coming soon. Neither they nor Meta were able to share details as to exactly when.

“Since our priority is to build consumer value first and foremost, there are no ads or monetization features currently on Threads,” a Meta spokesperson told Digiday. “At this time, we encourage businesses to experiment with Threads as part of their organic social strategy where it makes sense.” 

Still, U.S. ad execs, are trying to read the tea leaves on how these ads could work. 

Colleen Fielder, group vp of social and partner marketing solutions at Basis Technologies said that her team has heard that Partnership Ads, which allow a brand to run ads with creators, brands or other businesses, (currently available on Instagram and Facebook) would be extended to Threads.

“We were told that Meta plans to build out Partnership Ad functionality on Threads, but it [Meta] did not have a date for when that would be available,” Fielder said.

Clearly, the chatter around ads on Threads is still in the early stages.

Even so it’s safe to assume that these new ads for Threads will also appear in Meta’s ad platform Advantage+. After all, it houses all placement opportunities across both Facebook and Instagram (think image, video, carousel and collection formats across placements such as in-feed, search, Stories and Reels). So Threads ads will likely appear as new placement options alongside the current offerings.

“I think Meta would prioritize in-feed placement first [on Threads], and then focus on ads within the trends and topics section,” Fielder said, adding that she believes the formats would likely begin with text and image.

Jon Molina, vp of social U.S. at Brainlabs agreed with Fielder, while adding that Instagram could also house featured Threads carousels — similar to how the photo-sharing app has displayed a carousel of suggested Threads to its users since last August, to bring further awareness to Meta’s newest app.

If the rollout of ads to Threads occurs as planned, it would mean that Meta is confident in achieving its ambitious goal of attracting one billion regular users to the app — a milestone it previously set as a prerequisite for introducing advertisements.

As it stands, the platform is still quite a way off from that number.

When Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided an update on monthly users during the company’s earnings call in February, he reported a figure of 130 million. To meet the one billion user target in a condensed time frame, Threads would need to expand at a rate eight times faster than its growth over the previous months.

And timing is especially key when it comes to introducing ads to any platform. Launch them too soon and the move could disgruntle and alienate a lot of its current users who might be enjoying an ad-free space (think BeReal). Launch them too late, and the platform runs the risk of not having a rolling revenue to afford to keep the lights on, let alone add more features to keep users returning. The latter, for example, is exactly what caused audio-based app Clubhouse to become a casualty of its own making.

Nevertheless, reaching this milestone was more about having a clear audience before introducing ads.

That’s because in order to achieve more revenue, Meta has needed to find ways to increase ad impression volume and open up surface area — the latter in this case being Threads.

It’s also a move that’s in keeping with the accelerated timeline Threads has been on from the outset. Remember, Meta released the app far earlier than initially planned to capitalize on one of many of Elon Musk’s antics on X (formerly Twitter), which continued to drive users off the platform.

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