WhatsApp launches its first advertising campaign with Americans

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Ads present cautious messages to WhatsApp users

(CNN Business) – Since the beginning of this year, a series of advertisements have appeared on TV screens and billboards across the United States, with ominous text warnings.

“I think I left the car unlocked, can you check?” reads a text message displayed on one of the bulletin boards.

The consequence, described next to the text bubble: “If your personal texts are not end-to-end encrypted, they are not private.”

In a TV commercial, a postman delivers letters and packages that have already been opened to outraged recipients, before telling them that “every text you send is as open as your letters”.

These warnings are courtesy of WhatsApp, the mobile messaging service acquired by Facebook in 2014.

While WhatsApp has grown into a formidable force since then, used by more than a quarter of the world’s population, the platform reach in its domestic market remains relatively low.

Data shared with CNN Business by research firm eMarketer indicates that WhatsApp had fewer than 63 million users in the United States last year, or about 19% of the country’s population.

This is far behind its audience in countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia where it is among the most popular modes of communication.

India alone has nearly 500 million WhatsApp users according to eMarketer, more than a third of its population and more than half of its internet user base.

It is the first time that WhatsApp, which declined to share statistics on the number of users it currently has in the United States, has launched an advertising campaign in the country.

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