The top four messaging apps — Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Viber — now claim nearly 3 billion monthly active users combined, narrowly outnumbering the combined active users on the world’s four largest social networks, including Facebook.
These numbers have caught the attention of a wide range of businesses, publishers among them. News industry leaders including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and the BBC are establishing a presence on a number of chat apps in an effort to be out front and build an audience on the latest platforms where people are consuming content. These early adopters are experimenting to learn which chat apps work for their audience and how they can leverage chat for the distribution of digital content, including articles, images, surveys, and video.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we look at the appeal of mobile messaging apps for publishers and how they’re becoming a dominant platform for media consumption. We compare the leading chat platforms, including WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook’s Messenger, and Viber, and what features publishers should know about when thinking about how they might leverage these properties. We also look at strategies for content distribution across chat apps and finally spotlight some of the challenges that publishers may encounter as they begin to dip their toes into content distribution via messaging apps.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
- There are dozens of messaging platforms, each with distinct user demographics and features, and these differences will determine which apps a publisher should try and what type of content is most fitting.
- Publishers like The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and the BBC are experimenting to learn which chat apps work for their audience and how they can leverage chat for the distribution of digital content, including articles, images, surveys, and video.
- Chat apps are especially appealing to publishers because they allow these brands to tap into users’ “dark social” activity. Dark social traffic stems from people sharing content privately through IM programs, messaging apps, and email, among other means.
- Because chat apps were once primarily used for peer-to-peer communications, publishers have an opportunity to reach audiences on these platforms through a more conversational exchange.
In full, the report:
- Breaks down the pros and cons of each major messaging app.
- Explains the different ways publishers can distribute content on messaging apps.
- Highlights the differences between native and linked content.
- Looks at the potential barriers that could limit chat apps’ utility for publishers.
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