Another move in the oh-so-hot mobile messaging space today: South Korea’s Kakao Inc, which owns the KakaoTalk cross-platform mobile messaging app, has inked an agreement with digital marketing company IGAWorks to bring its mobile ad product, adPOPcorn, to the messaging app.
IGAWorks will also provide adPOPcorn to game developers whose products integrate with KakaoTalk. In a press release, the pair said the adPOPcorn advertising platform provides “in-game/in-app incentivized ad offers, including integrated advertising pop-ups, higher conversion rates and traffic, to social and mobile media channels while offering in-game items and other incentives to players”.
Mobile messaging companies are using a variety of strategies to monetise the large user-bases they have built up by offering free messaging services. It’s worth flagging that messaging giant (and KakaoTalk rival) WhatsApp has taken a public stance against advertising — but the company does (generally) charge yearly subscription fees to monetise its service, after a first free year. Other messaging apps, such as Line, have been using in-app entertainment-focused purchases such as stickers and game-related content to generate revenue.
KakaoTalk, which now has 90 million registered users, booked a profit of $6.3 million for fiscal 2012 on revenue of $45 million, according to Forbes. Building out its ad platform is an obvious way to supplement revenues from the 100 or so gaming apps on its platform (KakaoTalk takes a 20% cut of game sales). The bulk of KakaoTalk’s 2012 revenue came from game sales, according to Forbes — so today’s news means it’s adding a mobile advertising string to its bow.
KakaoTalk has also previously announced plans to create its own Android launcher, following Facebook’s launch of Home: a messaging-centric skin for Android devices, designed to keep users chatting within Facebook, rather than via third party apps. Yesterday Facebook announced Home downloads have reached close to one million. It’s unclear whether KakaoTalk’s launcher could display adPOPcorn ads in future.