If Siri and a Promoted Tweet had a baby, it might look like an ad on Kik.
With 200 million registered users, Kik has the attention of the media and advertisers alike. Last month, NBC became the first broadcast news service to create an account on the Ontario, Canada-based messaging app. When Kik’s users send a message using keywords like “politics,” they can receive news updates and video sourced from NBC.
Even before NBC got on board, Kik was being employed by some 60 publishers that include Seventeen and Funny or Die. Consumer brands like Skullcandy and Vans are experimenting, too. MTV recently created an account, as did media company and digital publisher Pixable. The latter posts popular stories, quizzes, and “anything that’s funny; according to Pixable’s vice president of growth its pages-per-session numbers are “almost double what we see on other social platforms.”
What’s the appeal of this Snapchat rival? Let’s take a look.
Kik’s Ad Platform Is Interactive
In November of last year, Kik introduced Promoted Chats as a way to monetize its service. Now, brands like Burger King are convincing consumers to strike up a conversation. Users can browse Promoted Chats in the “Find People” section of the Kik app to see which brands are currently running promotions. Brands must anticipate potential user interactions using something akin to artificial intelligence, such that when a consumer sends a brand a message, Kik can scan the keywords and deliver an appropriate response. That message typically comes with a selection of brand content.
Talking with companies on Kik isn’t unlike probing a smartphone personal assistant, if Siri or Cortana advised you to peruse some branded memes and GIFs. Questions are answered with chipper responses that are utterly on-brand (“Um, ok! LOL w/us over 9 memes that perfectly describe how u may really feel about V-Day,” says Seventeen magazine). Entertainment companies can invite consumers to chat with celebrities, and even fictional characters from movies and TV. It’s character marketing gone fully interactive.
The Washington Post created a March Madness-themed trivia game customized to the user’s skill set. The game plays out in real time when users interact with the Washington Post‘s Kik account.
Burger King, meanwhile, is currently using Kik to promote its Chicken Fries Keyboard emoji app. Its focus on delivering visual content is perfectly suited to Kik’s user base, 82 percent of which falls between the ages of 13 and 24.
Mobile Messaging Lets Consumers and Brands Get Cozy
“The mobile messaging app space represents the most intimate form of marketing that we’ve seen so far. This is an opportunity for the brand to actually participate in the chat-style dialogue with the consumer,” says Sean O’Neal, President at Adaptly. As a developer of media buying technology for autonomous marketing platforms like Snapchat and Twitter, Adaptly partnered up with Kik last year. Advertisers can buy Promoted Chats directly through Kik or do it through Adaptly, which automates the process to help companies scale their native cross-platform social media campaigns.
According to O’Neal, Kik can offer brands a totally unique media environment. “Facebook is more of a broadcast style advertising model, but with Kik it’s one-to-one marketing communication,” he says. “The opportunity that Kik has developed is brilliant.”
That’s because Kik isn’t made for messaging alone. The new version of the app includes a built-in mobile browser that allows users to “kick” messages, images, and video to others at will.
When in 2014 The Weinstein Company wanted to promote the movie The Giver among its target audience of Millennials it used Adaptly to post a trailer to Kik, along with virtual stickers to enhance images from the film. O’Neal says that similar campaigns have resulted in “hundreds of thousands and sometimes over a million new followers” for brands. Much of the Kik’s value is in the earned media that it can produce when users share content. “We’re seeing incredible virality on sponsored programs,” he says.
To put it another way, the perception of a brand’s content changes when it’s received by way of a family member or friend. By filtering its content through Kik, publishers stand to increase its impact on viewers.
Kik Users Engage With Brands
Earlier this year, Kik commissioned a study on messaging app engagement among Americans aged 14 to 25. It found that 90 have interacted with a brand. Direct brand engagement was highest among Kik users, with 30 percent reporting an interest in engaging with brands compared with 23 percent for Facebook and Snapchat.
Top activities among mobile messaging users includes following or liking a brand (60 percent), watching a brand video (56 percent), and reading a branded post (56 percent).
Twenty-six percent of Kik users said they had chatted with a brand directly (for Snapchat, it was 21 percent).
“It’s really changing the paradigm of marketing,” O’Neal says. “We’re moving away from the concept of pre-canned messages based on audience profiles and getting to a more human-like interaction.”
If the advertising of the future takes the form of a chat-based content exchange, we’ll have Kik to thank for it.
Homepage image via Flickr.
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