What is Kakao?" alt="">

What is KakaoTalk? Korea’s Mobile Marketing Keystone

Asia has long been viewed as a truly mobile-first region. And, as part of its makeup, Korea is no exception.

In fact, Korea is something of an outlier in APAC based on the sheer breadth of use and unique apps provided to local users. For context, 93% of the country’s population aged 3 years and older use the internet, with 92.4% of the population using their smartphones to connect.

In addition, 96.9% of all mobile Internet users in Korea use instant messenger apps such as KakaoTalk. This means that South Korean users are almost completely reliant on mobile for communications, e-commerce, social media, and gaming.

In this article, we’re going to dive into the question “what is KakaoTalk?” to help you learn more about the app, how it works, and what makes Kakaotalk one of the best platforms for app marketers to use in Korea. Read on!

Korea’s Super-App: KakaoTalk in Detail

Similar to its much-touted Chinese equivalent, WeChat, KakaoTalk has a hold on the messaging market in Korea, with up to 97% of the market share of messaging. In its most recent Investor Relations, Kakao Talk’s Chatting Tab has 44 million DAU, Friends Tab has over 30 million DAU, and Open Chat Tab has more than 13 million DAU by the third quarter of 2023. The app continues to show strong user growth and innovative advertising methods for growth marketers to capitalize on.

The trend of ‘super apps’ in Asia continues to grow as well. Similar to WeChat and LINE, KakaoTalk started as a purely messaging app. As these apps became more entrenched in daily life, all began to get new features for finance, e-commerce, music, and payment features.

Reaching the Korean audience has been of growing importance to Western advertisers looking to grow in Eastern markets. To help accelerate this, Kakao Business was launched to reach users directly. The platform includes several digital marketing products that we’ll detail later in the article. For now, just know that KakaoTalk advertising formats are very reminiscent of other social platforms. By partnering with the right agency, the learning curve can be minimal. Targeting through demographics, activities, interests, lookalike audiences, followers (plus their friends), customer files, and categories are all available on Kakao for Business.

How Do App Marketers Use KakaoTalk?

As part of its social takeover, Kakao has developed KakaoStory, a photo-sharing social network like Instagram. KakaoStory is heavily integrated with KakaoTalk; users can import their contacts from KakaoTalk into KakaoStory.

Kakao Channel (formerly known as Plus Friend) is a business tool for companies to market on Kakao and connect to their customers. Many brands that are successful in the South Korean market leverage this function to publish updates to their page or advertise through direct SMS to their followers, including coupons, product/app information, product launches, online/offline events, and even raffles.

This is a strategy most commonly used by beauty brands. Many of such local brands have been capitalizing on this strategy since 2016, making up 75% of the Kakao Channel beauty category. Name brands such as Chanel, Dior, and Estee Lauder also began to partner with Kakao Talk to sell cosmetic products starting in 2019. Additionally, international brands that aim to reach the South Korean market have also built a substantial presence on KakaoStory, highlighting the platform’s pivotal role in connecting brands with consumers.

How to Market on KakaoTalk and Other Kakao Platforms

Kakao Moment is an ad platform under the Kakao Group. The primary aims of the ads are product/service promotion, improving user acquisition, boosting website traffic, and enhancing conversions. Kakao Moment offers advertising services to platforms including Kakao Talk, Daum, Kakao Story, Kakao Page, Kakao T, KakaoTalk Channel (formerly known as “Plus Friend”), and Melon.

Businesses can access information related to their ad accounts, campaigns, ad groups, and creatives on the platform as well as tracking their performance through reports.

Display Ads

Kakao offers an extensive range of display advertising options, including banner ads, native ads, video display ads, and the Kakao Talk Bizboard.

While the first three formats are widely recognized, Bizboard is an ad type displayed at the top of the Chat tab, offering marketers a prime spot to promote their pages or highlight special events.

These advertisements can be featured not only across the Kakao ecosystem but also on partner sites like Nate and Bing.

With a diverse array of ad formats such as images, videos, and rich media, Kakao display ads allow businesses to create compelling content tailored to their marketing goals. Moreover, the platform supports various targeting strategies, enabling marketers to reach their desired audience effectively.

Message Ads

Businesses that want to deliver message ads must create their own Kakao Channel. Ads on Kakao Channel can be directed to users subscribed to the channel, with the option to tailor the ad message towards specific demographics or interests. By focusing on users already interested in the business’s offerings, these ads tend to yield higher leads and conversions.

Search Ads

Search advertising is called “keyword ads” in local terms. They mainly apply to Kakao’s search engine service Daum. On Daum, marketers can bid on keywords related to their business and, if they win, have their ad displayed on the result page when the keywords are being searched for.

Keyword ads are an effective way for brands to drive traffic and leads, as well as to increase brand awareness among potential customers.

In addition to keyword search ads, businesses can also leverage brand search ads to boost traffic. These ads are displayed at the top of search results on Daum, ensuring high visibility to potential customers.

These ads are particularly effective for introducing new products or promotional events, as they secure prime spots on the search result page.

Market on KakaoTalk with Nativex

Leveraging KakaoTalk for advertising within the Korean market presents unique challenges, but with the right support, it becomes a promising opportunity. Nativex is your go-to partner, providing comprehensive support to brands and advertisers aiming to establish and grow their presence on KakaoTalk.

From account setup to campaign management and optimization, Nativex delivers solutions designed to captivate your target audience on KakaoTalk.

Our approach guarantees the achievement of your marketing goals while paving the way for new growth opportunities. If you still want to know more about Kakaotalk, then partner with Nativex to unlock the full potential of your brand on Korea’s premier online platform.

Want to learn more about different social media app marketing in China? Take your pick from our “what is” series on BIGO, LINE, Zhihu, Dianping, and Xiaohongshu. You can also keep your eye on the blog for more updates as they happen.

Ready To Grow Your App In China?

XploreChina eBook

China is home to the largest mobile market in the world. In this eBook, we take a look at how Nativex can help you bridge the cap and successfully run your advertising campaigns in the region. Learn more about our media buying solutions, our influencer marketing expertise, creative production, and more.


Related articles