(ORDO NEWS) — Since the beginning of this year, a series of advertisements with ominous warnings have appeared on TV screens and billboards across the United States. They contained information about text messages.
“I think I left my car unlocked, can you check?” reads a message on one of the billboards. The consequence, outlined next to the text bubble, is: “If your private texts are not end-to-end encrypted, they are insecure.”
In a TV commercial, a mail carrier hands outraged recipients already-opened letters and packages before telling them that “every text you send is as open as your letters.”
These warnings come from WhatsApp, the mobile messaging service acquired by Facebook in 2014. It is end-to-end encryption that is used in this messenger, and users are constantly reminded of this.
While WhatsApp has grown into a huge powerhouse in eight years, with more than a quarter of the world’s population using it, the platform’s reach in the US domestic market remains relatively small.
Data provided by research firm eMarketer shows that as of last year, WhatsApp had fewer than 63 million users in the US, or about 19% of the country’s population. This is far from his audience in countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia, where he is one of the most popular ways to communicate.
According to eMarketer, there are about 500 million WhatsApp users in India alone, which is more than a third of its population and more than half of the Internet user base.
This marks the first time that WhatsApp, which has refused to release statistics on how many users it currently has in the United States, has launched an ad campaign in the country.
“Over time, we’ve seen more people in the US turn to WhatsApp,” said Eshan Ponnadurai, the platform’s head of marketing, who spearheaded the ad campaign. “We’re just sort of promoting ourselves in the US.”
The stakes could be high for Facebook, now known as Meta, to expand WhatsApp’s reach. Despite the massive turn to virtual reality, Meta’s social media platforms still form the core of its business.
And that business is fading Facebook’s user growth has slowed as it faces increased competition from other platforms like TikTok especially among younger users. Meta’s advertising business has also been affected by Apple’s privacy changes related to user activity tracking.
While apps like Facebook and Instagram are already widely used in the States and don’t have much room to grow, the potential for WhatsApp is much greater. The messaging app cost Facebook $19 billion nearly a decade ago and generated little revenue. Now Meta is trying to change that.
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