Why Messaging Will Rule the Marketing World

Aurelie Guerrieri

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One of my favorite ideas is messaging apps emerging as dominant mobile platforms. In this episode of #GrowthHacking is Dead: Long Live #GrowthMarketing, I explore how messaging is breaking through the app silos and providing new native advertising opportunities with Djamel Agaoua, CEO of Viber.

There are already strong signals that messaging apps in Asia (WeChat leading the charge) are becoming platforms on their own and hosting more customer experiences that would historically belong either in-app or offline. For example, through "mini-apps," consumers in China can buy digital and physical products, consult a doctor, pay for a can of soda, and order a taxi—all without leaving the messaging app.

While the ecosystem in China is unique, Agaoua thinks the West is headed in a similar direction. He says he is "[transforming] Viber into a platform where users will be able to access third-party services without leaving the app." This platform includes an instant shopping keyboard where users can browse, share, and purchase products from brands like Macy's, Pink, or Rakuten within the Viber interface. Users curate a personal shopping space including their favorite brands. Launched this year in the United States, the service has proven popular, with over 35% of users regularly using it. The platform strategy also includes Chat Extensions, where content providers like Spotify, Deezer, or Booking.com provide instant access to their services through a curated search interface.

Providing valuable user experiences leads to providing valuable advertising experience, Agaoua says. Advertisers have an equation to solve, which is to find a way to get to users where they are (and they are basically in messaging apps, most of the time, or social networks) without being too intrusive. Getting to these users is a difficult equation because when you are talking about messaging apps, you are talking about private conversations.

So, we need to find the right balance, and the right balance for us at Viber is to give the possibility to the users to search for services when they want to search for services. So, the user is the trigger to the system, and when the user triggers the system, then we offer the possibility to some partners and some selective partners to push their offers."

Respecting user privacy is key, but so is training advertisers to create ad hoc advertising content that is relevant to the user context.

Agaoua contends that messaging is a channel where emotions rather than information are shared. Thus, products and services that build an emotional connection with users best suit in-message advertising. Most elegant and respectful native advertising happens when the distinction between content and ad blurs. "We are talking about giving something to the user that they see as valuable in the experience they have, and the first experience they have is about chatting about a specific subject. "

Read more on mobile native advertising in The Mobile Native's Guide to Marketing.

Aurelie is the founder and CEO of Akila One, a growth-focused consultancy helping CEOs of digital companies like IAC Applications, Deloitte, Rakuten Viber, Cheetah Mobile, and many others scale their businesses from 50 to 500.

Earlier in her career, she ran Cheetah Mobile's global B2B marketing and business development organizations, was instrumental in building QuinStreet toward its IPO, and brought SendMe to $120M annual mobile revenues. McKinsey-trained, she holds an MBA and an MSc in Engineering Chemistry.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.