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Young-Adult Flick 'The Giver' Gets Ad Campaign on Kik Messenger App

Marketers Still Looking to Figure Out Messenger Advertising

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A 'card' on the messenger app Kik promoting the upcoming young adult movie 'The Giver.'
A 'card' on the messenger app Kik promoting the upcoming young adult movie 'The Giver.'

The mobile messaging app Kik is running its first ad campaign for a movie this week, a promotion for The Weinstein Company's "The Giver," as marketers continue to try to find young consumers in new ways.

Based on a 1993 young adult novel by Lois Lowry, "The Giver" tells the story of a boy living in a dystopian future where suffering and diversity have been eradicated. In addition to teen heartthrob Brenton Thwaites, the film's cast includes Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep, plus Taylor Swift in a small role.

On Kik, the movie's ad comprises a "card" containing the film's trailer, trivia questions and film-branded stickers, allows Kik users to share -- "kik," in the parlance of the platform -- the card's assets to one another in conversations that take place inside the app.

Weinstein and its social media partner Adaptly expect Kik users to link to the card, interact with its content or "kik" it to friends more than 1.5 million times before the movie comes out on August 15.

Still, it's a new effort, making it harder to predict results. "We are excited to be one of the very first to experiment," said Bladimiar Norman, senior VP of marketing, The Weinstein Co., in an email.

"I look forward to seeing the results," said Heather Galt, Kik's VP of marketing. "I think the integrated campaign that Weinstein's looking at is the kind of thing we're looking to see going forward."

Mobile messaging apps have in the past year or so become an area of interest for marketers and advertisers. A recent Interpublic Group report detailed how brands have begun toying with platforms like Snapchat and Tango, exploring them as possible venues for e-commerce, selling branded content like stickers, or as a good destination for native advertisements.

Most of these platforms enjoy tremendous popularity among the young, and Kik seems to be no exception. It was the third-most downloaded messenger app among both iPhone and Android smartphone users in the U.S. last year, according to app analytics firm Distimo. Kik says it has 2 million new signups globally every week, although Ms. Galt declined to describe the number of active users.

"This is a humongous platform," said Nikhil Sethi, the CEO of Adaptly. "We're not talking about categorizing this as an experiment. This is not some baby thing."

Though it is just a part of a wide digital effort -- marketing for "The Giver" is using more than 12 digital platforms -- Weinstein's Kik campaign is part of a broader push into uncharted digital territory. Earlier this week the company said it had agreed to stream an upcoming movie, "One Chance," on Yahoo ahead of its theatrical release.

Weinstein's path to Kik wasn't completely smooth. The campaign, originally slated to go live Monday morning, wound up getting delayed because higher-ups at Weinstein had yet to okay it.

Kik previously worked with Interpublic last year to run ads for a new album from One Direction.

But a lot needs to be sorted out before it can become a go-to platform for marketers and advertisers. Pricing is chief among them. Kik currently makes money from the sales of stickers, and from brands that pay to promote themselves as possible chat partners, but the company is still figuring out how to price campaigns like this one. For "The Giver," Ms. Galt said Kik arrived at a price for Weinstein based on how much it would cost to target a similar audience on other social media platforms. She declined to discuss specific dollar amounts, saying Kik does not discuss its revenue.

"I'd say the pricing model is evolving," Ms. Galt said.

Moving forward, targeting will be another consideration. Though it asks users for permission to access their contacts and location, Kik neither tracks its users' browsing history nor saves their conversations, and Kik and its ad partners' ability to track user behavior is limited.

More tracking would mean better insights and improved targeting for brands, but it would also mean limiting user privacy, something that had been a point of emphasis during the platform's growth.

"There is a lot of debate about how we can help brands be effective," Ms. Galt said. "It's something we're having a lot of conversations about internally."

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