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Marketers Take Note: Messaging is the New Medium for Consumers

The five most popular messaging apps alone are used by about 3.5 billion people, which is half of the world’s population. Messaging use recently surpassed social media use. An App Annie report indicates that messaging apps result in more sessions per user than any other type of app, by far. Not to mention, millennials use mobile for messaging more than anything other utility.

Messaging is expanding so quickly that it has ignited a behavioral change in how we consume media and connect with the world. The most exciting thing about messaging is how developers are using messaging as a platform and building multimedia integration on top of messaging. This opens a door for advertisers, brands and marketers to create campaigns that align with the desires of today’s consumers.

Multimedia Brand Stories

One of the most familiar and rising channels for multimedia messaging is Snapchat. Snapchat has 100 million active users, who watch approximately seven billion video clips per day, according to Bloomberg. Snapchat attributes a lot of that video traffic to stories, a feature that allows users to add photos and video clips into a dynamic, 24-hour story that any of their friends can view.

In early 2015 the company introduced Snapchat Discover, allowing companies to tell their brand stories to the public. The result is engaging and creative branded content. Although Snapchat Discover has immense potential to generate impressions, it may not be the ideal channel for smaller brands and marketers to engage on Snapchat. Currently, only big brands are using Snapchat Discover, and the feature presents limited personalization options. It also demands a huge creative backing as Snapchat Discover requires new content every day. So while Snapchat is a great outlet for generating impressions, it may not be ideally suited for everyone.

Digital Experiences On-Demand

With messaging, the greatest challenge for marketers is scale. How can marketers scale one-on-one messaging? How can they create millions of personalized brand-driven conversations? That’s where automated messaging comes into play. Automated messaging takes advantage of messaging’s massive volume by migrating information onto the messaging platform.

News outlet Quartz released its first iPhone app, which turns news consumption into a message-driven conversation. Similarly, Forbes announced a news-bot for chat app Telegram. The Quartz app is standalone, while the Forbes product lives on Telegram. With both you can receive updates in the form of messages and participate in automated news-related conversations.

These products present similar broad potential for advertising and marketing. One obvious potential is for a new kind of native advertising. Advertisers could use these messaging programs to feed users sponsored news stories automatically. But for the advertising to be native, it would have to align with the user’s typical news feed. There’s also the opportunity for brand awareness and promotional campaigns. These innovations are about building a new kind of relationship with consumers.

If brands want to use messaging-bots for marketing, they aren’t limited to news apps. Brands, retailers and advertisers can create their own branded chat-bots to personally interact with users on well-established platforms like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. Whatsapp recently announced a plan to drop their $1 annual fee and introduce business accounts, which one might imagine, would be driven by branded, automated messaging. Facebook has already incorporated branded chat-bots into Facebook Messenger, and plans to do more on that front.

The Many Facets of Facebook Messenger

No matter how you slice it, Facebook is the world’s leader in messaging. The company controls Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, totaling approximately two billion monthly active users between the two. Facebook Messenger has huge potential for marketing, well exceeding branded emojis, which are available in most messaging apps. Facebook already uses messaging as a marketing platform, but the way the company is incorporating multimedia is extremely compelling for the future of marketing in messaging.

By introducing new features in Messenger, Facebook has hinted at some of the ways marketing and messaging might converge. For example, users can make payments in Facebook Messenger, which is proof of concept for the integration of e-commerce and messaging. Businesses can show users status on deliveries, maps of physical locations, and then there’s photos, videos, gifs, voice notes, and more. When more brands and retailers start using Facebook Messenger to interact with consumers, not only will users be able to chat with their favorite sellers, but they’ll also be able to purchase directly in the conversation. Users can already order an Uber through Facebook Messenger, imagine what the future will hold.

The Future

Messaging has changed the world and the way people interact. In the future people will not only interact with friends and family but also with brands and entities via Messaging. From promoting a brand or product to making purchases (commerce), delivering customer care, qualifying leads and much more, messaging welcomes a new era for marketers to engage with consumers, personally, directly and at scale.

Eyal Pfeifel is the co-founder and CTO of Imperson. Eyal can be reached at