People are talking, and brands want in on the conversation. According to Pew Research, 49 percent of smartphone owners age 18 to 29 use messenger apps, so there’s no surprise that it’s become the next big marketing platform. By 2019, the number of messaging app users is expected to reach 2.19 billion, about the same amount of people on social media today.
Communicating to an audience has become more than a static ad plastered across the screen. Savvy brands have been utilizing messaging apps to seamlessly integrate ideas using timely messages, digital stickers and emojis.
For Mother’s Day last year, 1-800-FLOWERS.com, Inc. created a mobile campaign that provided free digital stickers through native in-app delivery on messaging platforms like LINE Messenger, Kik and Viber. The interactive digital stickers also drove traffic to the 1800flowers.com e-commerce site. Kik’s Promoted Chats feature allows users to opt-in to receive messages from specific brands, such as Seventeen Magazine and Funny or Die.
Now that Facebook offers sponsored content, brands are racing to the platform, which now sees more than 900 million monthly users. WhatsApp, which boasts a user base of one billion, is ad-free. However, the BBC used its Broadcast Lists feature to deliver news last year. The feature only allows for lists up to 250 people, and users must add the contact to their address book to receive messages.
Snapchat offers Sponsored Snaps, but other brands, like WeUndies are using the popular social network to create brand awareness through comedic skits and exclusive promotions. Snapchat recently applied for a patent to create custom ads based on photos using object recognition technology.
Large companies like Bank of America and Virgin Atlantic use Facebook Messenger as a customer service tool. Rather than wait on hold for an eternity, consumers can report issues and obtain support with the same ease as texting a friend.
LINE first made a name for itself as a messaging service in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan in 2011, but has more recently evolved into an all-conquering and fully-fledged platform. The company recently launched The Line app, which integrates with the main app and allows businesses to communicate with users.
To aid themselves and others playing Pokémon GO, Razer created RazerGO, a chat app that seamlessly integrates into gameplay to communicate between other players. To support the new app, Razer is introducing guided Pokécrawls along multiple routes around RazerStore San Francisco with giveaways and special promotions at the store and online.
Messaging apps can be used to create brand awareness, start conversations and offer support. Video game companies like Chinese mobile giant, Tencent, know this all too well. “Entertainment companies, especially on mobile, will start integrating messenger app functionality to build their user base,” said Joost van Dreunen, CEO and co-founder at SuperData Research to [a]listdaily. “Discovery continues to be a challenge for companies in the space. It also opens the market up to new revenue models, allowing game companies to rely more on ad revenue, provided they can build a large enough, and relevant, user base that is of interest to brands and advertisers.”