Kakao Talk also has a monetization scheme that eschews the boring and intrusive in-stream display advertising on which Facebook’s mobile experience has so far been based. Kakao Talk has a feature called “Plus Friend” in which users can choose to add brands to their friend lists in exchange for discounts and special offers that can be delivered by instant chat.
Passing on analyzing whether this type of feature would work in the US at scale, why do we see brand integrations like this outside the US first? This is only one example, but brand integrations like this into core personal services, like communications (phone and text), traditionally starts in Asia, and then filter into USA services in some light, usually unsuccessful way.
Perhaps it’s the purchasing power or preference of USA consumers. Are companies in Asia under the pressure to build ad-supported brand integrations more aggressively because consumers won’t spend as much money on these services? Do consumers prefer free to clean, or don’t have the same concerns over privacy/control of their private communications? Why do these type of innovations happen outside the USA first?
Could you imagine a Google Voice with voice ads in-stream? Or do you remember the mid-2000s attempts: Virgin Mobile’s attempts at ad-supported mobile service, or the old MVNOs with heavy brand integrations like ESPN or Disney?
Perhaps instead of web-first, or mobile-first, we should think about international-first and what that means.