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Viber Starts Push into U.S. Market with Private Messaging

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Facebook Messenger is undoubtedly the biggest messaging platform in the United States.

Similarly, Snapchat is reportedly the buzziest app in the same region, but these two should brace themselves for there is a new and serious competitor coming in the shape of Viber.

The main targets of this Israel-born app in the U.S. market are teenagers and young adults, and it is doing so with the help of an ad campaign dubbed “Chat.” Here, rather than take the position taken by many social media platforms, Viber is positioning itself as a platform where small group chats can remain private.

Rakuten recently revealed its intention of making Viber big in this region and in a bid to make sure this doesn’t fail; the company acquired partnership deals with U.S.-based firms such as Allison & Partners, Essence, Droga5 as well as Laundry Service; all of which had a role to play in the new ad campaign.

According to Viber’s global chief marketing officer Mark Hardy, this campaign is about “reigniting the traditional conversation in times when everyone else is limited by a number of characters and worried about “brand me” in social media. We are about real conversations that take place in protected environments.”

Messaging apps are popular in most countries outside the U.S.

US locals do not depend on messaging apps for messaging thanks to the fact that most carriers here already offer suitable messaging plans. However, in countries such as China, Japan, India and Thailand, messaging apps have gained huge popularity thanks to the high costs of text messaging in these countries. WeChat, for example, is China’s top messaging app with a following of over 600 million people. LINE is also another popular messaging app in Japan and Thailand, with WhatsApp accounting for quite a huge user base in India and other parts of the world.

Viber, on the other hand, has more than 660 million users around the world, yet only 44 million use it from the U.S. However, the company has not details of how active these users are on the platform.

The messaging sector has taken a different channel, offering users with more than just messaging services. WeChat and LINE took the e-commerce path, and they are doing amazingly well. Facebook, on the other hand, bought WhatsApp and made Messenger a standalone app, with the two expected to be major income generators for the company shortly. It is for this reason that Viber wants to expand its U.S. market.

Viber, other than allowing users to send free messages as well as make free voice and video calls, also comes with a sticker market and gaming platform. Also, brands can use the app’s Public Chats feature to connect with consumers.

Viber’s campaign will include outdoor marketing as well as empirical efforts in Miami, Boston and New York, with the probability of rolling out the same campaigns in other cities. Some of the elements included in the outdoor marketing campaign are posters of group chats and their features in addition to working with artists such as Alec Monopoly in a bid to offer more and better stickers.

The ad campaign will be extended to other markets once the company evaluates the success of the current run and finds out what needs to be improved. Viber sits at position 9 in the list of top 10 most used messaging apps in the U.S., with Facebook Messenger leading the way.