Brands Eager to Reach People Inside Messaging Apps

Robert D. Hof reported on the front page of the business section in Monday’s New York Times that, “Gatorade is one of a growing parade of brands eager to reach people inside messaging apps. With at least 1.4 billion monthly users collectively worldwide, apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp and Kik, and Weixin and Line in Asia, have become the main daily hangout for many young people, sometimes even surpassing the time they spend on social networks and playing games.

“But should brands insert themselves into one of the most personal activities online? Many apps, such as games, allow advertising, but who wants ads from Pampers cluttering their most intimate chats with friends?”

Mr. Hof stated that, “That doesn’t mean brands are completely unwelcome on messaging apps. But it does mean that so far on these services, they are remarkably restrained in their approaches, focusing less on promotion and more on providing entertainment or utility — or both. In some cases, the marketing isn’t even in the form of paid ads.

“On WhatsApp, for instance, the shoe brand Clarks avoided an overt sales pitch, and instead created three virtual characters to promote its venerable Desert Boot, allowing users to connect to them on the app to receive messages, videos and music playlists.”

The Times article explained that, “In reality, nearly all the marketing in these apps remains experimental,” but added: “‘Messaging is a more human and conversational way to interact, much more powerful than throwing out a bunch of media dollars,’ said David Hewitt, a vice president for mobile strategy at the agency SapientNitro.”

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