It’s clear to see how broadly technical companies grew their partnerships with publishers in 2015. Every major tech company has developed a platform to showcase publishers’ content: Snapchat Discover, LinkedIn’s Pulse, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News have become part of the news landscape. Now, with the news that messaging apps have outstripped social networks in terms of monthly active users, expect to see tech-publishing partnerships that spread content through messaging apps.
Publishers have shown their willingness to relinquish full control over their content in return for tech companies’ support. The immense reach and influence that companies such as Google and Facebook command make it worthwhile to give up control over distribution. As long as their content is seen, publishers are less concerned about which platform is presenting the content.
Messaging apps keep on growing at an astonishing pace. Based on the way news distribution has been evolving, it’s only reasonable to expect that messaging apps will continue to expand their provision of news.
Messaging Services as News Broadcasters
Around the world, people use messaging apps for more than chatting with friends and making carpool arrangements for their children. They also watch videos, shop online, and follow favored brands.
WeChat, a Chinese messaging app, is astoundingly popular. Half of China’s massive population uses the free app actively and habitually. WeChat’s publishing platform is so popular that The Paper, a news provider owned by the Chinese Communist Party, has chosen to regularly post content on WeChat in order to reach more people.
In July 2015, The New York Times experimented with publishing news through WhatsApp. Interested customers were instructed to text a keyword to a particular phone number in order to receive news updates. Similarly, German news publisher t3n has been using WhatsApp to share its news. The magazine sends its WhatsApp subscribers two news items a day, choosing those articles it deems to be most relevant and important.
Why Messaging Apps
Messaging apps carry broad appeal. They are used extensively by the coveted 18–34 demographic, they have higher retention rates than most apps, and they are seldom subject to the neglect given to most apps. The apps’ reach is also a huge plus; the four largest chat apps
(WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, QQ Mobile, and WeChat) boast more monthly active users than the four largest social networks combined.
Additionally, messenger apps are easily accessible. Most users sign up for push notifications, so they don’t have to navigate a site or open emails to view news updates.
As smartphones become less expensive and data prices fall, more and more people can be expected to access their news through messenger apps, and news publishers and messaging apps will become seen as obvious partners.