In an effort to connect with Gen Z on their own digital turf, the Canadian messaging app Kik has released a new “chatbot” technology, and it seems to have caught on in a big way. According to statistics from Kik as reported by Ad Week, users have exchanged 1.8 billion messages with the more than 20,000 bots created by developers earlier in the year. Already, around 60 or 70 brands have gone through Kik’s vetting process and progressed to its bot discovery area, with another 40 or so going through some sort of advertising trial on Kik. Kik certainly has plenty of interest from younger generations, with 60 percent of bot users between 13 and 19 years old. There are also more females than males using bots, and 81 percent of all users are from the U.S. (Canada and the U.K. have the second- and third-most users.)
While much of the growth has been directly through the Bot discovery area, Kik has been adding ways to spread bots via word of mouth. Last month, it introduced a way for users to invite friends to try out bots, which helped one zombie invasion game bot increase its subscribers by 20 percent. Instead of focusing on traditional online metrics such as web traffic and bounce rates, Kik has been working to create a framework focused on attention, looking at the number of messages or the time of interaction. For example, one major film marketer saw nearly 15 minutes of time spent with its bot, while some retailers have sent and received close to 100 messages.