How messaging apps like Whatsapp are changing the Mobile Marketing Landscape
Since Facebook’s $19B acquisition of Whatsapp last week there has been increased speculation about the role of messaging services in allowing brands to expand their marketing reach. Shortly after Facebook announced the deal, the Japanese online retailer, Rakuten, said that it would be buying Viber — an internet calling service similar to Skype that reports close to 300 million users — for $900M. Meanwhile, WeChat, a Chinese-based messaging service, is also said to be closing in on 300 million users and may become the next major acquisition target.
Deals such as these signal the potential for messaging apps to evolve into platforms with continuously monetizable users. Whatsapp serves some 500 million users, mostly in emerging markets, roughly 70% of whom use the app on a daily basis. A recent report from Deloitte predicts that in 2014 an average of 50 billion messages will be delivered each day across these types of messaging services. For many brands, such numbers indicate the opportunity to reach a global audience with immediacy and precision.
For Facebook, the Whatsapp deal will help to cement the company’s involvement with messaging and voice calling. But it may also help Facebook attract interest from advertisers looking to make inroads with consumers in emerging markets. Facebook has struggled to gain traction in Asia against a lineup of competitor networks, but with the acquisition of a half billion active users there it can now focus on boosting mobile user activity in Asian markets, which may enable the company to start charging advertisers more aggressive rates without stifling demand. Plus, with the unique demographic-targeting options that Facebook offers, the company may be primed to gain a competitive advantage as a distribution platform.
The gain in users may also allow Facebook to start bringing revenue into line with investor expectations. Since its 2012 public debut the social networking giant’s price-earnings ratio has hovered above 100, indicating a discrepancy between the company’s perceived worth and current earnings. But such an influx of users in high-interest markets may help to boost advertiser interest and earnings.
The rise of Whatsapp and other messaging apps may also underscore a key feature of the new marketing landscape: with the explosion of smartphone and tablet usage across the globe, brands need tools that provide both precision and reach on mobile. Marketers increasingly gauge ROI in terms of the ability to reach mobile audiences with strategic timing and differentiated messaging, both of which Facebook is now better equipped to provide. OysterLabs’ AQUA – a combined mobile CRM+Analytics platform – offers such capabilities at highly competitive rates, and is a critical tool in the arsenal of any mobile marketer.