Private messaging apps are growing exponentially. As it stands, more than 75 per cent of smartphone users use a mobile messaging app at least once a month, and by 2018 the number of users of these apps will reach 2 billion. This represents about 80 per cent of smartphone users – so it’s easy to see why marketers would want to jump onto this technology.
Speaking at a SXSW panel event last week, Robert Candelino, Unilever’s VP of marketing, said: "You are one swipe away from being irrelevant." It’s true of course, and ensuring that you have a mobile messaging app strategy is becoming as essential as that for social media – with increasingly large segments of consumers spending time on such apps, it has and will define a generation of content making.
Candelino continued: “It starts with what value we’re adding to people’s lives." In other words, it’s about being useful - if brands are not useful than they are not important. If we are to head into an era where one-on-one engagement is the optimum way to market to consumers, then those communications have to be relevant at a very specific level, and that’s going to require marketers to be cleverer about data.
Anthony Green from the messaging app Kik, also on the panel, agreed saying: “It’s not about just blasting out content for everybody because it’s the same." Green also went on to predict that messaging apps were the "browsers of the future". On this point I’m not sure but I do believe that if brands are going to be in this space, it has to be personalised to the individual. This is all, of course, a neat addition to the customer experience.
Also discussed was the importance of 'Micro Moments' – the five to seven-second periods of attention from consumers – that brands must use in the best way possible. By this, they mean don’t send irrelevant content. Whatever brands give, it must be quick, easy, useful or entertaining – or all of those things.
But this excitement of new channels comes with a warning: if brands push irrelevant content on messaging apps they will begin to drive consumers away to somewhere else. And if that happens, the industry will not have learned the lessons of ad blocking.
Peter Dolukhanov is managing director of Nice Agency and Group CTO, Karmarama.