Instant messaging apps have experienced a surge in popularity, growing by 30% since 2012. Propelled by social networks, these apps have overtaken SMS as the method of choice for messaging and are striving to add new features to entice consumers to keep using their services. Instant messaging's richer experience, and the data it gathers, provide brands with more possibilities to connect with consumers in personalized ways.
Image usage in messaging has come a long way since its inception in the 1990's: with the rise in smartphone use, emojis and stickers have become more detailed and allow users to conveniently share their emotions. Younger audiences are especially fond of these new communication methods as they allow for spontaneous and unique exchanges.
Line is a Japanese IM that's been on the market since 2011. It shares a number of similarities with apps such as WhatsApp and Viber, but has seen a drastic increase in active users (+57%) since 2014 thanks to its large collection of stickers which it updates monthly. Users can choose between free stickers or purchase new ones via in-app transactions: these represent 20% of Line's turnover.
It's becoming clear that stickers are more than a trend: they are a new ad channel. Brands are taking advantage of stickers' ubiquity in messaging apps to directly reach out to consumers.
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