Kik And J-14 Strike Platform-Publisher Match Made In Teen Heaven

J-14-and-KikMany teens on Kik love J-14’s celebrity-focused trivia games, returning every week to take its interactive, emoji-filled quizzes with questions like, “Which family member does Justin Bieber have a rocky relationship with?”

This has pushed J-14 Celeb Quizzes to first place for weekly active users in Kik’s bot shop, which launched this spring. The shop allows users to download chatbots from various companies, including H&M, The Weather Channel and J-14, a celebrity-focused magazine for teens.

When parent company Bauer Xcel Media created J-14’s successful Kik bot, three things were required: a close partnership with the platform, a willingness to test and learn and acceptance that it would acquire users before ad dollars.

Since Kik also targets teens, the two are a natural fit and started talking early. J-14 created an initial bot last year that allowed users to type in a celebrity name, such as “Taylor Swift,” and receive the latest information via text and a link to a mobile web article. But clicking through to an article wasn’t the ideal user experience.

“We found that we have to be mindful of what platform we are on and what their expectation is,” said Allison Mezzafonte, SVP of operations at Bauer Xcel Media.

The J-14 team then experimented with trivia, tapping into its fan base’s deep knowledge and interest in celebrities. Users responded more positively to the new concept. Sixty percent of its readers take more than one quiz, and 11% take five or more.

The bots offer other advantages over Facebook and other platforms, which curtail reach based on an algorithm.

Kik “is a push rather than a pull environment,” said Josh Jacobs, president of Kik Services. “Just like a friend, you have the ability to initiate contact.”

Because of the success of its trivia bot, J-14 added more quizzes to user feeds. It’s amassed an audience in the mid-six digits, Mezzafonte said.

Within the next three months, J-14 will explore monetization. It’s testing ideas that create a “very integrated and contextual ad experience that goes beyond straight-up display units,” Mezzafonte said.

Drumming up demand will mean finding partners willing to go first.

“At this point in time, the ability to scale in bots is an unknown for an advertiser,” she added.

Kik plans to have a commerce component, with a Kik currency, as well as advertising. That may involve charging for some content, for example.

“They are a really good example of somebody who is going to be able to incorporate advertising and commerce over time,” Jacobs said.

While Kik has thousands of bots in its app store, few come from publishers. Funny or Die and Yahoo launched bots, but Jacobs wants more publishers to enter the green fields of chatbots.

“The next wave of your readers are in chat,” Jacobs said.

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