A new report from Forrester Research gives marketers an interesting perspective on the quick growth of messaging apps in the past year. Whether or not that translates into solid revenue strategies for many is still up for debate though.
Forrester’s new "Messaging Apps: Mobile Becomes the New Face of Social" report outlines the user base and revenue numbers from 10 apps: WhatsApp, Viber, Line, Skype, Nimbuzz, WeChat, KakaoTalk, Instagram, Tango and Facebook Messenger. Despite some of the high numbers that these apps are collecting individually, the majority of them aren’t tapping into their full revenue opportunities, per Forrester.
By the numbers
While the size of each messaging app is already public knowledge, the report gives an interesting perspective that shows how specific apps stack up to each other.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp claims 500 million users, followed by Line with 420 million. The social giant’s other messaging properties, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, pull in 200 million users.
Tencent’s WeChat has 355 million subscribers, and Viber and Skype each reach 300 million users. The report also notes Tango (with 200 million subscribers), Nimbuzz (claiming 150 million users) and KakaoTalk (which rakes in 140 million subscribers) as other players in this space.
Raking in the money
Despite the opportunities for monetization, only three out of the 10 apps had quantified revenue models.
Within the apps making money, Line dominates the mobile messaging space. The app (which has steadily been moving into the U.S. from Asia) generated $335 million in revenue during 2013, driven largely from the sales of sponsored stickers.
KakaoTalk is one to watch, too. Despite its small user base, it was the second highest-grossing app in the report with $204 million in revenue from in-app games and upgrades.
Six of the apps were new to developing app monetization strategies. For example, Viber launched a sticker market in November and Tango partnered with Twitter’s MoPub in December.
WhatsApp was the only app referenced without marketing or advertising offerings, but with 59 percent of Facebook’s revenue coming from mobile during the first-quarter of this year, the social giant's acquisition earlier this year likely includes big plans in integrating ads into the app. Instagram's sponsored photos are still new to the app, but appear to be driving some successful campaigns for brands like Taco Bell and Hollister.