Kik, the instant messenger app, has introduced branded GIFs on its service, giving companies a chance to expand their marketing efforts.
Kik is valued at about $1 billion and the chat app has a registered user base of more than 275 million across the world. The app is particularly popular within teens and young people.
The chat app has also selected the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and "Zoolander No. 2" as the first two branded GIF content partners as they best characterize Kik's focus on fun (animal GIFs) and entertainment (films).
GIFs seem to be the focus of Kik as it introduced its GIF emoji keyboard in November 2015.
"We've partnered exclusively with Riffsy GIF Keyboard to bring you the best GIFs from all over the Internet. Just open the media tray by tapping the '+' and then tap the GIF icon. You can search for GIFs with text or emojis," says Kik.
The latest announcement on Tuesday takes Kik's service to a new level.
"To add another layer of fun to Kik's GIF keyboard, today we're adding branded GIFs. We saw an interesting opportunity to enhance the GIF experience with fun and timely content. These GIFs will be tied to custom emojis and will work the same way as other emoji-GIF options," says Kik.
Kik allows companies to officially open an account under its brand name on the platform. These companies are also allowed to run bots, which can interact with users and provide content based on predefined chat messages that are triggered by keywords.
Kik's branded GIFs will not require companies to open official Kik accounts under their brand name. Companies can just open a new channel for spreading content to users and entertain them. Kik will be charging companies for branded GIFs.
Paul Gray, Kik's product strategist, says that the latest branded GIF initiative will be available to more partners in the next few months but Kik is being cautious in selecting the partners.
"We've always been very careful with how we roll things out," says Gray. "We do a lot of updates to [our overall library of] GIFs based on seasonality. [With branded GIFs] we wanted to be very careful [and] talk to exciting brand partners."
Kik users can find the "Zoolander" and WWF GIFs from the app's GIF search engine.
The Kik app is available as a free download from the App Store. The app works on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch running on iOS 6.0 or above.
Android users can also download the Kik app for free from the Play Store. The app supports devices running on Android 4.0 or higher.