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For brands that don’t already have a huge app or website presence, the best bet for breaking through to consumers is to run campaigns on messaging apps.

There are several compelling reasons for this. The first is that other platforms have already been owned by a finite group of large brands.

“Unless you’re a top brand, you’re not going to launch a new app or website, you’re going to participate in messaging apps,” said Anthony Green of Kik, speaking on a panel at the Ad:tech conference happening in New York this week.

Kik, with more than 240 million users, is the non-Facebook messaging app used by the most teens in the U.S. market. Green says Kik users are in the app for an hour and a half a week, on average.

Mobile users, especially young ones, are using fewer apps and spending more time in their go-to apps, said Evan Wray of Swyft Media, a marketing agency that helps brands communicate over a large number of digital platforms. For many young users, those go-to apps are gaming and messaging apps, Wray said.

The huge engagement numbers of messaging apps like Kik presents a big opportunity for brands.

“Advertisers are excited about chat because it feels like a one-to-one experience between the consumer and the brand,” Wray said.

Perhaps most importantly, the range of experiences taking place on messaging apps is growing rapidly.

“We’re moving toward a time when the whole process of ordering flowers begins on chat,” said Kik’s Green.

Green explained that in the case of an ecommerce transaction like ordering flowers (1-800-Flowers, a Kik brand client, was also on the panel), the process could start with the user choosing which flowers they want to send, then move into the back and forth with a rep, then the order, then the notifications within the messaging app about delivery status.

Swyft’s Wray said that main thing brands need to know are the rules of engagement with messaging app users. Brands often try to push their logo and sales proposition too hard, eventually alienating users.

Wray said his company spends a lot of time working with brands to tailor their campaigns to the tastes and tolerances of users. And, Ryan points out, those rules of engagement vary from platform to platform.

Swyft worked with 1-800-Flowers to launch a campaign on Kik earlier this year.


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