There is no denying the growing power of messenger apps, particularly Facebook Messenger. Pew Research reported that 49 percent of smartphone owners age 18 to 29 use messenger apps, and the number of users is expected to reach 2.19 billion by 2019. There are currently over 11,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone, and messenger bots from brands such as Expedia, HP and Victoria’s Secret can help customers make purchases.
A recent Facebook Messenger policy change allows these chatbots to send subscription messages to its users with advertisements, promotions or services such as makeup consultations. However, “All conversations between businesses and people must be initiated by the person receiving the messages, who can then mute or block the business at any time,” wrote Facebook product manager Seth Rosenberg. Subscription messaging is still in its testing phase, but it could become a powerful tool for different brands.
The use of chatbots to promote and support different brands has become a fast-growing trend. Alexander Krug, CEO and founder of Softgames, said that “2016 is the year of messaging,” while speaking with [a]listdaily.
“Messaging apps are showing explosive growth now,” Krug continued. “Now almost 2 billion people use messaging services. There’s a massive opportunity out there. Messaging is the top app type in terms of usage. This is where chatbots come into play, as messaging apps become the new platform, subsuming the role of the mobile operating system. Instead of having an app for shipping, game, or whatever’s out there, you just have a messaging app and within it is a bot for a service or a game.”
Here are some best brand-supported chatbots around right now.
Call of Duty
One of the most impressive uses of a chatbot was used to promote the upcoming game Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Last May, fans took to Facebook Messenger to chat with a bot playing the role of Lt. Reyes, a character from the game. Users could unlock exclusive Infinite Warfare content, and the chatbot even played being annoyed when asked too many questions. The campaign was a huge success, exchanging over 6 million chats within its first 24 hours online—a sign that chatbots will be used in future promotions.
“We wanted to give our fans playing Call of Duty the first peek at the next game and a unique way to interact with one of the characters from the upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,” said Tim Ellis, the chief marketing officer of Activision Publishing, in a press release. “Messenger gives us the opportunity to engage directly with our fans in an interactive adventure that has never been done before—in Call of Duty or on Messenger. It’s been a lot of fun to see the community rally to work with each other and with Lt. Reyes on Messenger.”
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) May 1, 2016
Although you can perform straightforward tasks such as linking the messaging app to your Kayak Trips account for up-to-date itinerary changes, the travel search service has its sights set on putting “a transport representative in your pocket.” This includes finding and booking flights, hotels and rental cars using Facebook Messenger, but more engaging features include asking Kayak about things to do at a particular destination, or where you can go for $500.
The news organization delivers daily headlines, complete with images, to its readers through its bot. However, the messaging app can also customize content to the reader’s tastes. Users can type in topics such as “politics,” “science,” or “Pokémon” for related results. Additionally, the bot keeps track of what you’ve read and can recommend additional stories based on your history.
Now You See Me 2
Given the virtual reality experiences Lionsgate used to promote movies such as Nerve, The Hunger Games series and others, it’s clear that the movie company isn’t afraid to experiment with new forms of promotion. However, it seemed to go the extra mile with Now You See Me 2, the movie sequel about a group of magicians performing Robin Hood-style heists in front of a live audience. In addition to a real-world augmented reality game and magic trick app, the studio produced a chatbot for Facebook Messenger and Kik. With it, users can interact with characters from the movie, solve puzzles, and overcome challenges in the hopes of gaining recognition from The Eye, a secret magical organization from the movie. It became an engaging way to tell a story and for audiences to delve deeper into the movie’s world.
The chatbot promotion was developed by Sequel. When asked whether chatbots are bound to be used in future promotions, the company’s CEO, Omar Siddiqui, told [a]listdaily: “Absolutely. Given the audience size and the possibilities available to connect with games in a more emotional and intimate character-centric way, we expect much more experimentation and development of ‘bot games’ in the future.”
Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza
The two food delivery giants, Pizza Hut and Domino’s, are currently in a war over customer engagement. In the past, Domino’s has usually been in the lead when it comes to experimenting with new technology, including ordering pizza with emoji, from a smart TV, or using Amazon’s Echo device. Domino’s launched a Facebook Messenger bot named “DOM The Pizza Bot” in the UK and Ireland earlier this month. Users simply need to register for the Easy Order service and type “pizza” to initiate an order.
— Domino's Pizza (@dominos) May 12, 2015
Not to be outdone, Pizza Hut is also expected to launch a social ordering platform on Facebook Messenger and Twitter, and it promises to let users find deals and order food in a conversational style. Additionally, the Messenger service can link your Facebook and Pizza Hut accounts together so that it can list your past orders, which should make reordering a breeze.
Baron Concors, the chief digital officer for Pizza Hut, told [a]listdaily in an interview that “we want to make it easy for customers to order or get whatever information they are looking for—this could be customer service, nutritional information or deals and offers.”