Editor’s note: Portions of this article were first published in eMarketer’s Global Messaging Apps 2019 report.

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We’ve all known advertisements have been on the horizon for many messaging apps. However, we’ve now received word that WhatsApp, one of the most-used apps throughout the world, will be implementing Status ads as soon as 2020.

So, what does this all mean? Let’s see what eMarketer has found:

The global mobile messaging landscape

Mobile messaging apps are drawing in more users from across the globe. In 2019, the number of mobile messaging app users is expected to rise by 12.1% to 2.52 billion. By the end of our forecast period in 2023, we expect that 3.12 billion people worldwide will use a mobile messaging app at least once per month. That represents 39.5% of the world’s population.

By that time, the number of mobile messaging app users will have surpassed that of mobile phone social network users. There will be some overlap between these two groups, as some messaging apps have social elements and vice versa. For this reason, we count Snapchat and WeChat in both our estimates for mobile messaging app and mobile social network users.

As the mobile messaging app audience expands over the next few years, so too will time spent on the services.

Source: eMarketer’s Global Messaging Apps 2019 report

DEG Senior Social Media Strategist Chelsea McDonald sat down with eMarketer to discuss these trends and provide insight into how to approach mobile messaging advertising.

McDonald explained that right now, mobile messaging apps are typically used for closed communication between friends. When the Status ads launch next year, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, is going to be testing the relevance of advertisements in these closed environments—and their effectiveness.

What can marketers do to get ready for Status ads? McDonald says to experiment.

When these advertisements arrive, testing your messaging and seeing what works best for your brand and your customers will provide you with the best idea of how to expand mobile messaging ads for your business.

In addition, you may find that WhatsApp isn’t the right app to engage with your customers. Social media success is finding the right channels in which your customers are present.

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Test it out and compare your results with other social channels you’re already using to engage with customers. Be sure to take a close look at who your best customers are and what channels they’re using to connect with your brand.

For more insights, read the full eMarketer Global Messaging Apps 2019 report.

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