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On Monday, popular North American chat app Kik introduced video calling, according to a blog post from the company.
The addition brings the chat app up to speed with other platforms including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple’s FaceTime.
However, unlike with other apps, which turn video calling into a full-screen interaction, Kik’s video calling feature provides a less obtrusive experience, with users participating in the conversation appearing in small bubbles, referred to as “talking heads,” on the screen. This allows them to continue sending each other stickers and GIFs through the video call.
Kik is just the latest company to bolster its camera-focused offerings. As live video and photo sharing become increasingly central to mobile communication, other businesses have been working hard to ensure that they’re catering to growing consumer demand. For example, Facebook brought Instant Video — a feature that lets users send short videos within a conversation thread — to Messenger, and Google launched Duo, its video-calling app, Daydream, the company’s VR platform, and Tango (via Lenovo), its platform that aims to provide better native VR and AR capabilities in smartphones.
Coupled with the high engagement rates that chat apps boast, the introduction of video chat could help reshape the behavior of consumers, making them more inclined to use the camera within these apps. Down the line, this could lead to greater marketing and advertising capabilities, such as using the camera to scan codes, or interact with brand posters and advertisements. For instance, a user could scan a QR code in a train advertising a competition with a company. They would then be taken to a conversation with the brand inside Kik or Facebook Messenger to claim the prize.
Messaging apps have evolved beyond simple text communication tools to include commerce, file sharing, artificial intelligence, and more. And that evolution is ongoing.
BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on messaging apps that takes a close look at the size of the messaging app market, how these apps are changing, and the types of opportunities for monetization that have emerged from the growing audience that uses messaging services daily.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Mobile messaging apps are massive. The largest services have hundreds of millions of monthly active users (MAU). Falling data prices, cheaper devices, and improved features are helping propel their growth.
- Messaging apps are about more than messaging. The first stage of the chat app revolution was focused on growth. In the next phase, companies will focus on building out services and monetizing chat apps’ massive user base.
- Popular Asian messaging apps like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE have taken the lead in finding innovative ways to keep users engaged. They’ve also built successful strategies for monetizing their services.
- Media companies, and marketers are still investing more time and resources into social networks like Facebook and Twitter than they are into messaging services. That will change as messaging companies build out their services and provide more avenues for connecting brands, publishers, and advertisers with users.
In full, this report:
- Gives a high-level overview of the messaging market in the US by comparing total monthly active users for the top chat apps.
- Examines the user behavior of chat app users, specifically what makes them so attractive to brands, publishers, and advertisers.
- Identifies what distinguishes chat apps in the West from their counterparts in the East.
- Discusses the potentially lucrative avenues companies are pursuing to monetize their services.
- Offers key insights and implications for marketers as they consider interacting with users through these new platforms.
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The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the future of messaging apps.