Messaging apps the new browser?
Traditionally, brands and developers have built application experiences to work with a specific browser. In the near future, however, we could see that model flipped entirely on its head, as communication is such a fundamental element of using your phone. Enter messaging apps. In the past few years, we have seen brands begin to build experiences on top of messaging apps – chatbots, mobile commerce functions, etc. – in addition to on top of operating systems. In two to three years, could we see messaging apps become the new browser?
The most prevalent example of this is China’s WeChat. There are 846 million monthly users on WeChat in China, and the messaging app is practically ubiquitous, since it’s available on Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Symbian phones. WeChat provides what several different apps would normally provide – text messaging, voice messaging, group messaging, video conferencing, video games, content sharing, location sharing, payment options and more. You can perform almost any task within the WeChat app – buy a mortgage, trade a stock and even grocery shop. Most recently, WeChat announced that users will be able to pay for Starbucks via the app’s payments.
It’s hard to ignore the success WeChat has achieved and we are seeing an aggressive push from the giants in the Eastern markets. Facebook, Apple and Google, among others are working hard to emulate the wildly successful capabilities of WeChat. Notably, this year Apple opened its iMessage platform to third-party developers, and is pushing for iMessage to become the platform of choice. We’ve also seen Facebook Messenger open its platform to third parties with the introduction of chatbots. Brands and publishers now have the opportunity to create experiences for users where they are engaging and spending the majority of their time.
What will brands need to do to embrace this change?
Be familiar with the space. The reality is that messaging apps are used by younger demographics. And typically, though it is changing, the decision makers at brands aren’t as aware of the popularity or capabilities of mobile messaging. In 2015, many companies talked about mobile messaging apps, but brands didn’t widely adopt a strategy for them. In 2016, we’ve seen that conversation change. Brands have heard about messaging apps, they want to learn more about them and they are interested in testing them.
Messaging apps are constantly evolving. It’s an interesting dynamic because they are all competing with one another, but serving the same purpose of communication. The result for brands is a fragmented market. There are different user bases for different apps. For brands, getting into the messaging space can be daunting. As a brand – what’s going to be the holistic strategy and how are you going to measure it?
…they are all competing with one another, but serving the same purpose of communication
In the coming year, we will no doubt see the market evolve even more as mobile messaging apps introduce new capabilities and features, maybe even things that hadn’t even been dreamed of in 2016. While it might be a lot for brands to consider, it doesn’t have to be daunting for brands to execute a mobile messaging strategy. There are many ways they can enter mobile messaging, or enhance their existing strategies. The trick is to know the audience you’re trying to appeal to, inside and out, and understand all the possible ways you can use mobile messaging to reach them. Mobile messaging is a fast-moving, ever-evolving space, so it’s important to have a partner with solutions that help your brand take advantage of these changes as they happen. Swyft Media’s Mobile Engagement Platform helps brands easily aggregate, deploy and analyze their message across these platforms to ensure that the right branded content is reaching target audiences in an effective way.