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  • Threads and Discord tease new ad units, Twitch goes TikTok

Threads and Discord tease new ad units, Twitch goes TikTok

Plus: News on Google's audience AI, Amazon's DSP, and X's CTV play.

Welcome to The Thread, a weekly update on what’s driving performance in digital marketing. For years, Gupta Media has sent a version of this email to our performance marketing teams to stay aligned on new developments, opportunities, optimizations, tests, and tactical advantages we’ve discovered in our work. Now, we’re making it available to the public, every Thursday morning—for free.

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Today’s Social Media advertising rates: A spring thaw, as rates come down from on high.

↘️ YOUTUBE: $3.19 CPM |  ↘️ META: $7.56 CPM | ↘️ TIKTOK: $3.22 CPM

In this week’s edition: 

  • 📺 X gonna give it to ya: Twitter TV?

  • Ads are finally coming to Threads 🧵

  • 🎮 Game on: Discord unveils new native ads

But first…

🔊 Listen up! Twitch’s sound-on video play

🎮 Twitch, everyone’s favorite gamer-friendly video streamer, has rolled out a unique ad unit: Audio.

  • How it works: The spots run while a video stream is playing, replacing the stream’s audio until the ad is over. The ads are available via Amazon’s DSP, with CPMs starting in the $10-$11 range, or $13-$15 if you want to layer on targeting.

Coming soon: Twitch is officially rolling out its new TikTok-like discovery feed to all users this week, which will become the new default landing page. The platform also confirms that a mobile app redesign is coming later this year.

🧵 Threads: Officially, Instagram’s “Twitter Killer” is still ad-free, encouraging “businesses to experiment with Threads as part of their organic social strategy.” Unofficially? Word on the street is that beta testing for Threads ads will be rolling out “imminently,” with ad buys available “as early as the second half of this year.” Given that Threads is now nipping at the heels of Twitter/X, this will be one of the most anticipated paid-social developments of the year. Stay tuned.

🐦 Twitter/X is launching a dedicated CTV app for videos uploaded to the platform. With an interface that looks similar to YouTube, the app will be available on “most smart TVs.” There isn’t an official launch date for the app, and details are sparse, but it will supposedly be available “soon.”

Which seems like a good time to mention: For those who are still running ads on X, we recommend adhering to brand safety best practices.

  • Placements: X encourages opting out of the "Search results" and "Profiles" placement in every campaign at the Ad Group level.

  • Adjacency Controls: You can now negatively target up to 4,000 keywords and 2,000 author handles, controlling the content you don’t want your brand to be seen one slot above or below.

  • Sensitivity Settings: Sensitivity Settings should be used in combination with existing keyword and author exclusions.

🎁 Amazon’s Demand Side Platform (DSP) has rolled out a new campaign type called Performance+. Think of this as Amazon’s version of Meta’s Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns (ASC) or Google’s Performance Max (PMax). In this case, Performance+ is Amazon’s automation solution for driving off-Amazon conversions.

  • The Big Picture: In this week’s earnings call, Amazon continued to emerge as a major competitor to Meta and Google in digital advertising. “Amazon's advertising unit saw sales surge 24%, just ahead of consensus estimates. It's the first report since Amazon started running ads in Prime Video, a move analysts predict could generate significant revenue over time.” [CNBC]

🔍 Google will integrate more AI into the ad-targeting process by enabling advertisers to define their audiences through conversational prompts. The new “audience persona” tool will prompt marketers to “Describe your ideal audience and audience persona instantly generates a combination of audience segments that matches your goals,” Google says, helping agencies to “easily select the right audience lists from thousands of options, while also uncovering new, high-potential audiences to improve reach and deliver better results for clients.”

📺 YouTube: YouTube Select Shorts ads function similarly to TikTok Pulse—that is, they reach the most engaged audiences on Shorts by serving ads adjacent to top content. Select Shorts ads are the latest Shorts-specific ad unit that Google has made available to advertisers and agencies via a reservation buy. Call us if you need an intro.  

  • In other news, Google briefly announced that it planned to discontinue YouTube’s TrueView In-stream ads as a stand-alone format beginning in June. A few days later, the company reversed course—setting the timetable on the change to “TBD.”

  • If indeed Google does decide to pull the trigger, advertisers looking to target in-stream exclusively will need to do so via Video Reach. Chalk this up as yet another nudge in Google’s attempt to push advertisers to Video Views Campaigns, YouTube’s AI-driven product launched last fall that serves dynamically across in-stream, feed, and shorts.

🗨️ Reddit: Leaning into D2C, the “Front Page of the Internet” has launched Dynamic Product Ads in Beta. The ads combine contextual shopping signals “with machine learning and advertiser product catalogs” to connect high-intent shoppers “with the products they’re looking for, at the very moment they’re looking for them.” Reddit says Dynamic Product Ads are driving 1.9x greater ROAS compared to conversion objectives. Among the other benefits, according to Reddit’s rollout release:

  • Instant campaign creation as the ads auto-populate in real-time with the latest pricing and product images from an advertiser’s catalog.

  • Simple, guess-free targeting with two new targeting options: Retargeting, which automatically serves ads to people based on the products they’ve previously engaged with on the advertiser’s site, and Prospecting, which automatically serves the most relevant products based on what people engage with on Reddit or advertiser sites.

  • Support across the purchase journey with feed and conversation placement, as well as single image or carousel format ads to reach Reddit users in the discovery, consideration, or decision-making mindset.

For advice on how to incorporate Dynamic Product Ads into your overall strategy, check out our 2024 Reddit Advertising Playbook, released this week.

📷 Instagram: Big quality-of-life update for digital marketers: In the past, if you boosted a Reels post—even in-app—with a goal of growing new followers, it was still a black box. Sure, you could measure baseline follower growth, but it wasn't an exact science. So good news: Instagram now reports follower growth—in-app—for Reels boosts: i.e., you’ll see the true follower count driven by your boost. 💐

🕰️TikTok: As TikTok prepares to roll out a Beta test for Search ads as a stand-alone unit later this year, advertisers should be asking themselves: At what point do we begin to think of TikTok Search more like Google search, and less like Social?

As you’d expect, the pricing on TikTok Search versus TikTok feed can vary by an order of magnitude. Currently, TikTok Search is available only as part of a bundle, but we’re already seeing the disparity manifest in unexpected ways.

Several of our campaigns are seeing a rise in spend in TikTok search placements, causing a shift in results. For one of our clients, we noticed our TikTok CPM spiked by a very large percentage. Investigating, we saw that on that day, nearly all our spend had gone to Search placements ( as opposed to about 30% of spend on a typical day). The CPM for our search spend was 20x higher for search vs. non-search.

🐘 The Elephant In the Room: Our weekly office poll!

We’re shocked—shocked!—that Google has announced yet another delay in its long-threatened deprecation of third-party cookies. (“In other unsurprising developments,” Digiday wrote, “water remains wet.”) The new target for Cookiepocalypse: Q2 2025.

What happened this time? “We recognize that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers,” Google wrote in a blog post, “and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem.” The company’s replacement for cookies—its so-called “Privacy Sandbox”—has also come under scrutiny from regulators and industry analysts, who worry the solution may be worse than the problem.

The delay doesn’t mean advertisers are off the hook. In fact, most agencies realize that—with or without Google—the days of 3p cookies are numbered. Case in point: an even more troubling proposal has emerged in Congress, where the House has taken up a bill called the “American Privacy Rights Act,” which the IAB has called “quite terrible” and which, if passed, “would drastically curtail the advertising technology ecosystem,” according to Ad Age.

What do you think: When will Google finally unleash Cookiepocalypse? Place your bets below, we’ll share the results next week.

When do you think Google will ACTUALLY deprecate third-party cookies?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

 🏆 Pick of the Week: Advertising is coming to Discord

Discord, the gamer-friendly video streaming platform, is modifying its longstanding resistance to advertising by launching “sponsored quests,” a novel advertising unit for video games. According to the Wall Street Journal, the units went live this month.

How it works:

  • It’s not a typical ad unit—instead, it’s a new kind of native experience. According to the WSJ: “The paid promotions are from videogame makers and will offer users gifts for completing in-game tasks while their friends watch on Discord.”

  • “Developers and publishers who sponsor Quests will work with our team to build an experience that showcases their game,” Discord CEO Peter Sellis writes in a blog post. “Quests will show up tastefully in Discord where you can opt-in to stream your game to friends and win rewards for playing.”

  • Users will be able to opt-out of seeing Quests: “Some players will be made aware that a Quest is available,” writes Sellis, “while others will discover it as their friends accept and embark on the quest.” 

Coming soon: Sellis told Bloomberg that he plans to take Discord public; currently, most of the company’s $600 million annual revenue comes from its Nitro subscription service.

Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next Thursday to fill your inbox with more tips, tricks, and treats from the addressable universe. In the meantime, stay up to date with the latest performance marketing intelligence by following us on Linkedin, Instagram, and X.