More people than ever are now using mobile messaging apps — in fact, the current figure of 1.4 billion consumers worldwide could reach 2 billion by 2018.
That’s partly because of its convenience, but also because global consumers often migrate to messaging apps as cheaper alternatives to SMS, MMS, and voice calls.
A new eMarketer report, “Mobile Messaging Apps: Global User Forecast, Leaderboard and Outlook on Monetization,” confirms the trend.
“By the end of 2015, 75 percent of smartphone users worldwide will use an over-the-top (OTT) mobile messaging app at least once a month,” reports eMarketer. “Such a large share is not surprising, considering smartphones are communication devices at their core and “messaging” has consistently been among the most popular mobile activities, albeit one traditionally done via SMS/MMS. For reasons ranging from cost savings to creative expression, OTT messaging apps have grown incredibly popular with mobile users the world over.”
Research from Juniper backs up this forecast. In fact, a July 2015 report from the firm indicates that more than 94 trillion digital messages will be sent worldwide this year. That number includes email, IM, MMS, SMS, and social media.
“Email is expected to generate the largest share of messages, but Juniper contends that the scales will tip in favor of IM next year,” notes eMarketer. “The research firm projects the volume of IM will exceed email for the first time by mid-2016 and generate the largest share of digital messages sent annually.”
While it’s too early to rank the leading messaging apps by revenue (many have not even attempted to monetize yet) it is clear that monetization matters will soon loom large.
WeChat and Line are mentioned by eMarketer as today’s role models for combining both advertising and digital content (games and emojis/stickers, for instance).
“Stickers alone provide two streams of revenue: one through the retail sale of sticker packs sold by the app itself, and the other from “branded stickers,” a form of brand-sponsored content,” according to eMarketer.