ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Marketing Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Marketing Dive site for the latest marketing news.

Kik offers engaging outlets for connecting with teens

Mobile messaging application Kik is showing a lot of potential for marketers that are trying to reach a younger demographic with creative, engaging material that goes beyond the banner ad.

Kik is similar to BlackBerry Messenger and iChat and uses a phone?s data plan or Wi-Fi to send and receive messages. Marketers can leverage the app by creating Kik Cards or offering in-message stickers for users.

?There certainly is some signficiant potential for marketers in messaging platforms like Kik,? said Jason Goldberg, vice president of strategy, commerce and content at Razorfish, New York.

?Not only have some of these platforms built a considerable audience, 100M users in Kik?s case, but perhaps more importantly they tend to have much higher engagement and time spent than most other types of mobile apps,? he said. ?So Kik certainly has an audience that markets would like to reach. 

?The key is to look at Kik?s audience, and decide how valuable that audience is to your brand.  If a significant portion of Kik?s 100M users are targets for your product or service, then it may well be worth an investment. Because Kik has the card platform and the embedded browser, it?s possible to offer more engaging marketing content than is possible on many other messaging platforms.?

Easy conversion
One of the benefits with advertising on Kik is that the app has a built-in browser so brands? Web sites are already on Kik. They can then build from their existing mobile Web investment as opposed to starting from scratch.

?Using Kik's browser, users can instantly share both the brands' Web sites and the content from those sites,? said Heather Galt, head of marketing at Kik, Waterloo, Canada. ?Sharing between users happens with one click - and when someone receives content, they can open and enjoy it with one click as well, without ever leaving Kik.

?Through Kik's messenger and built-in browser, brands have an opportunity to engage in a one-to-one or one-to-few conversation with their audience, and to be part of the conversation between their users as well,? she said. ?And by leveraging Kik, brands can be in their users' pockets at the right time, in the right place.?

According to Ms. Galt, Kik has more than 100 million users globally and 275,000 new users every day, so this platform will a large audience for brands. Additionally, Kik users tend to share content from the app on other social platforms as well, expanding the reach of any advertising efforts.

?The good news about Kik is that the ?card? content is essentially standards-based HTML 5, which means marketers can easily reach consumers in a native app environment without the investment of building it themselves,? said Matthew Witt, executive vice president of digital integration at TRIS3CT, Chicago.       

?The Web app environment also makes any content and functionality far more accessible and portable, which means marketers could create test-and-learn experiences with relatively small investments,? he said.

Beyond banner
Marketers and consumers alike are realizing that the death of the mobile banner ad may be imminent, and Kik provide a new and unique way to go beyond the banner.

Advertising on Kik lets brands enter consumers? conversations and create shareable experiences.

Marketers are able to create a Kik Card using HTML5. The mobile page can deliver content such as photos, music, videos and games. Kik Cards also connect fans to other users that have the card.

These cards can be promoted in the app to reach more users.

Marketers can also advertise branded stickers that Kik users can insert into messages.

?Brands are looking for ways to be authentic, and create rich experiences in mobile instead of just purchasing banner ads,? Kik's Ms. Galt said. ?Many brands are also looking for ways to really engage their users when that content is timely and relevant.

?With Kik, it's less about ?campaigns? and more about ongoing engagement.? She said. ?We've seen lots of brands, content providers and even gaming companies drive high engagement through a combination of good, shareable content and highly interactive experiences.?

Kik-worthy brands
A few brands have already acted on the opportunity in Kik. Reddit, for one, simply links to their site via a Kik Card.

Aquafina's FlavorSplash got a little more creative and launched a sticker pack on Kik that is free for fans to access and insert in messages. Other brands such as Psych and South Park are selling Kik stickers at $1.99/pack.

Sony Music and One Direction launched the first marketing campaign on Kik to reach 1D fans and promote the band?s new album. Fans could access exclusive content via the 1D Kik Card (see story).

Brands such as One Direction that are mainly trying to reach teenagers can benefit from Kik?s typical audience. Marketers need to evaluate Kik?s audience to see if it aligns with their own target.

?Marketers with great content and a young, mobile savvy audience need to be testing, as a minimum, on Kik now,? said Molly Garris, digital strategy director at Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide, Chicago.

?One reason teens might prefer Kik to other messaging apps like WhatsApp is that it doesn't require a phone number to be exchange, just a username,? she said. ?That way, teens feel more comfortable adding others and have the ability to use it on iPod Touches.

?Marketers will continue to follow teens as they adopt the latest, greatest communication platforms.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York