Why CNN Will Be All In on Kik on Election Night

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CNN will use election night to try to adopt an audience that's not even old enough to vote. The cable news giant is doubling down on the messenger app Kik, popular with the 13-to-17-year-old set, and certainly a much different audience than those who will be tuned in to the network on Nov. 8.

On election night, the CNN bot will provide real-time election results, as well as custom Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emojis, real-time gifs, smilies and stickers featuring CNN talent like Anderson Cooper. And anyone who mentions @CNN in chats with friends will be directed to live election updates. Of course, it remains to be seen just how many teenagers will be chatting about CNN.

The goal is to tap an audience that might not be watching TV on election night, said Samantha Barry, head of social media at CNN. This is part of CNN's strategy to reach audiences at every age.

"For us, it is about creating a news habit for every generation on every platform," Ms. Barry said. "We are enabling them to become CNN news users."

Since this is the audience who during the next presidential election will be able to vote, CNN wants to get them early.

Ms. Barry said the CNN bot will allow users to communicate in a way that's inherent to them. Its gif tray on election night, for example, will be updated in real time, with moments captured on CNN being turned into gifs.

CNN was one of the first news organizations to join Kik's bot shop, debuting in July ahead of the conventions. During the Republican and Democratic conventions, CNN launched an interactive explainer that provided details on the conventions like who attends and where they were held, with the idea that younger consumers may not know the basics.

Since then, users have exchanged 17.6 million messages with the CNN bot. Yahoo News and Mic also have bots on the platform.

Chat bots are certainly having a moment, but so far they appear to have limited intelligence. CNN's bot on Facebook Messenger, for example, has been criticized for delivering spam. But companies who are utilizing bots believe it is a more personalized way to communicate with their consumers and that the more bots are used, the smarter they will become.

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