What Mobile Messaging Mania Means For Marketers

Mobile messaging apps haven’t quite taken over the world -- but they’re getting there.

By 2019, in fact, more than a quarter of the world’s population will be using mobile messaging apps, per a new prediction from eMarketer.

This year, mobile phone messaging apps will be used by more than 1.4 billion people -- an increase of nearly 16%, year-over-year.

What explains the popularity of the apps? Well, “one reason mobile messaging apps have taken off is because they are a cheaper alternative to SMS/MMS,” Cathy Boyle, principal analyst at eMarketer, notes in a new report.

What does the trend mean for marketers?  “Brand marketers are eager to follow consumers to these apps, but injecting themselves into users’ conversations is not easy, and it’s often unwelcome,” according to Boyle.

“However, the expansion of messaging apps into platforms that include chat bots and editorial content is providing marketers with more natural places to engage messaging app users,” Boyle added.

Not surprisingly, the Asia-Pacific region is driving much of the growth of mobile messaging. Already, it is home to more than 50% of all chat app users around the globe. (That adds up to about 805 million consumers, if you’re curious.)

China accounts for more than half of the region’s users. Yet, India -- the second-largest market for messaging apps -- is the fastest-growing market. In India, chat app users are expected to grow by more than 24% this year, and to exceed 133 million.

In Indonesia, meanwhile, more than 52 million people will use chat apps, this year -- an increase of more than 21% on 2015.

Looking farther ahead, strong growth in India and Indonesia is predicted to continue throughout eMarketer’s forecast period. By 2020, there will be more than 230 million mobile messaging app users in India, and roughly 86 million in Indonesia, the firm estimates.

Nevertheless, for both India and Indonesia, eMarketer has decreased its projections for chat app users, partly because eMarketer revised its numbers for Facebook usage, reducing the number of social network users, which in turn drives mobile messaging adoption.

This column was previously published in MoBlog on November 29, 2016.

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