Kik, a messaging app geared toward millennials , is diving deeper into native advertising with a feature, released Thursday, dubbed Keywords.
The app, which originated in 2009 and has about 150 million users, first brought brands into the fold in August, with the launch of Promoted Chats.
“The concept with Promoted Chats was to give brands a presence on the platform, and to give them a chance to interact with their followers,” explained Paul Gray, product strategist at Kik.
More than 6.5 million Kik users opted-in to chat with the company’s brand partners and, since the product’s launch, Kik has sent more than 100 million brand-sponsored messages.
With Keywords, brands can further personalize chats with their followers through preprogrammed responses based on what they think consumers will ask. For example, 16 Handles, a frozen yogurt chain and an early Kik brand client, anticipated followers would likely ask about store locations. So the yogurt sellers used Keywords to set their chat responses to include location listings.
“Keywords makes the conversation more relevant and contextual,” said Athan Stephanopoulos, SVP of strategy and partnerships with publisher (and Kik advertising partner) NowThis. “Essentially, we can ask our followers to tell us what they want to know more about. Based on the keywords they send us, we’re able to surface up the relative content we produce that’s in relationship to what our followers want to have a conversation about.”
Promoted Chats reach 75-80% of Kik users, said Gray, compared to Twitter’s organic ad reach of 10% and Facebook’s organic reach of 2-6%.
“When branded content is purely broadcasted through social platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, those are time sensitive posts and users would have to be on the platform at that moment to notice an update,” said Gray. “With Kik, it’s a native notification. And brands can also broadcast content that reaches users directly.”
Kik’s clients also can track responses and attribution.
So far, 25 brands in retail, film, news, music and non-for profit operations have adopted Kik’s platform, and some current brand clients include VICE, Skullcandy, Adaptly, AERO, Funny or Die, Moviefone and NowThis.
NowThis, which focuses on video and was created by the same founding team that started Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, has north of a 10% rate of return from their followers daily due to Kik’s sponsored messaging.
“We’ve been bullish and aggressive towards the growth of instant messaging and got to know Kik early on when they rolled out,” said NowThis‘ Stephanopoulos. “We wanted to be there because for the video content we produce, there’s a huge audience that lives in the Kik environment.”
After a little less than two months of using Promoted Chats, NowThis racked up approximately 200,000 followers who engage in branded conversations. In those two months, Stephanopoulos said its Kik followers surpassed its number of Twitter followers, an audience that took NowThis two years to build.
“We saw an opportunity to build a scaled, engaged audience within Kik’s platform,” Stephanopoulos said. “We also saw an opportunity to promote daily content that’s timely and relevant, and Kik gave us a way to engage our followers.”
“Going forward, we want to continue to work closely with brand partners and we have a few new capabilities that give our brands deeper insights into users’ wants in real time,” said Gray.
Kik is headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario with offices in New York and San Francisco.