How marketers can use keyboard apps to power effective UA and build brand

April 26, 2019

Baidu, the number one search engine in China, is building on its strength in AI and its international footprint to transform its popular keyboard apps into a comprehensive performance marketing platform. Elaine Sheng Hu, Head of Business Development at Baidu’s Global Business Unit, talks about the impact of AI that “intuits” context around discussions enabled by the keyboard to deliver relevant information. She also discusses how marketers can harness how users already interact with keyboards, and enhance this high engagement with stickers, gifts and other perks users find highly valuable to drive conversions and brand visibility.

Elaine: Business Unit here in U.S.A. So, Baidu GBU, Global Business Unit, this is where we are headquartered. We are in Shenzhen, and this building is literally where all of our global products are being developed. So, our GBU's main responsibilities are to expand the global footprint of Baidu's products. So, we actually offer a wide variety of products and services for both end users and businesses. But today, I'm gonna focus on talking about our keyboard apps. How we have changed our keyboard apps from a basic communication tool into a powerful marketing tools, and why for any marketer today in the audience, we wanna share what we've learned in the past a year about how to customize a campaign in our keyboards, and why you should definitely consider keyboards as a new, customizable and effective way for user acquisition and build your brand.

So, here you can see two of the keyboards we launched in the western market...for actually global markets, I'm sorry. On the right side, you can see Simeji. Simeji is a Japanese keyboard we launched in Japan in 2008. Ever since the launch, the keyboard has been massively popular, and for years, it's being ranked number one free keyboard in both iOS and Android. It has won multiple awards. And the Simeji brand is well recognized by more than 80% of the Japanese millennials. On the left side, you can see Facemoji, this is the keyboard we launched in western geos.

So, we launched this app in 2016. Ever since then, we have accumulated over 100 million downloads. So we received a lot of positive feedback for Facemoji from Google Play. So based on the user reception, we realize keyboards are extremely popular among young people. That's why it might look like a very good way for marketing, but in reality, keyboards have been overlooked as a powerful marketing tool in many years. And we would say, it is probably because the keyboards potential of being used in marketing campaigns are only realized in recent years, thanks to the AI technologies. Now, I'm going to share how much keyboards have changed, have evolved, and changed into a flexible and powerful marketing tool.

So, people may ask why, you know, keyboards should be considered, you know, when you're talking about branding, marketing or performance marketing when there are so many other options out there. So, I would say there are several reasons, firstly, keyboards are massively popular among young people. For example, we see in Japan our Simeji app, more than 57% of the users are female and they are under 30 years old. These are the perfect audience for, e-commerce, advertisers and this casual gaming. Secondly, keyboards usually have a higher user engagement and retention rate. So, what we see in Japan, for example, in our Simeji keyboard, on average, a user will open Simeji more than 80 times a day, 80. This is already a usage rate comparable to Instagram in Japan.

And certainly, a keyboard, they are highly personal, intimate and they are extremely customizable. So, users will change their keyboard skins, you know, for different look and feel. So this literally, kinda like, an expression of their personality. So, I would say the most interesting aspect of keyboards is that for marketers, we offer you really a lot of ways to reach out to your users and you can interact to your users in whatever way you want. So, this literally gives you endless marketing possibilities. So, this slide shows that Baidu is a technology company. For many years, we have been heavily invested in machine learning and in natural language processing. Now, we are able to leverage this tack into our mobile apps. For example, in Simeji and Facemoji keyboard, we embedded AI features, for example, intelligent recommendation, you know, based on what users are typing in, and also smart emojis, or voice recognition. Today, we have transformed keyboards from a basic communication tool into a really creative platform where users can interact with their friends.

So, let's go down to the details like, share some real-life use cases and how AI can help you do marketing in the keyboards. Okay. Here are three examples, you know, how we are using AI. And these are all examples from our Japanese Simeji keyboard, but they are equally applicable to Facemoji. So, in the first example, you see two users, they are chatting, they're talking about going to Tokyo for traveling. So, based on the context of this discussion, the keyboard intuits that these two people are talking about traveling to a specific city. So, the keyboards intuits that the weather information in this specific location will be useful. That's why the keyboard is providing a live readout of the weather information in this chat. And they allow users to take screenshots and you can copy and paste and share with your friends without leaving the chat. The second example, also two people, they are talking and one person is getting bored, so she's typing something indicating she is bored. Then our keyboard is providing an instant game for these users to place room. The third example again, this user indicating she's bored then the keyboard is offering comic books for her to read.

In this slide, we're going to talking about some special effects being triggered by the keywords, the preset keywords. So, the first one you can see with the preset keywords, [foreign language 00:06:56] in Japanese which means shiny, shiny, they triggered an overlay of the Easter Eggs, which is the branding campaign we're promoting. And in the second example, again with the preset keywords, they trigger it like they take over of the Easter eggs, which covers the entire keyboard with animation. So, both cases are perfect for branding campaigns. Then in the third example, again with preset keywords triggering special effects, but this time this is no longer about branding, this is performance marketing where the keyboard is providing a special link where users will be directed to a special campaign's landing page. So, just imagine this could be like for e-commerce websites, so they preset keywords like shoes, or electronic devices, then we take you to your specific product web page. So, now with all these examples, you probably already thinking about some potential use of keyboard and doing marketing. Now, let's share some of the real case studies.

So, here's one user acquisition campaign we run in Japan with a local gaming advertiser named Sumikko Gurashi. So, they are a puzzle game with a lot of cute characters, for example, like a hugging bear or like cats or penguin. Then our keyboards actually provide a feature that will allow users to customize their skins, and we also work with a lot of individual designers and we work with...how do you say, famous brands to create like a special set of packages of stickers and skins. So, then these skins and stickers could be gifted, you know, to users as an incentive in performance marketing. In this case, to get the skin, users not only need to download the app, they also need to play the game to a specific level.

So, here you can see how it actually works. So, this is the sticker library inside our container app, and users want to download this cute set of Sumikko Gurashi skin and stickers. So, they will be told, okay, in order to download the skin, you need to download the app. Then by accepting the offer, users will be taken to App Store, then they download the app and they open the app, they played a game to a certain level, we will give them a notification saying, "Okay, now this is your gifted stickers and skin." You can get the stickers and get back to Simeji and keep chatting with your friends. So, this kind of campaigns actually satisfies three pain points. First, it is a performance marketing, it is based on the CPI model, so it is measurable. Secondly, we encourage like high engagement. So, we allow marketers to push engagement to whatever degree you would like, you know, with your audience. So rewards could be given based on app open or app download or any types of in-app actions.

And last but not least, the gifts themselves they are highly customizable, they could be stickers, they could be skins, they could be AI emojis. And these gifts, when given out, they will stay with your users forever. So, when users are using the stickers, they are chatting with their friends, they are sharing it, so these stickers will be used over and over again. And by sharing on these stickers, your brand is being spread virally. And this will definitely increase your brand's visibility and awareness. So, this type of mixture of branding campaign and performance campaign definitely works in a very fun way. So, this slide shows the result of the previous Sumikko Gurashi case.

So, we not only...we're able to drive more than 40,000 sticker downloads during the campaign time window, we were also created a lot of buzz around this new skin, and people started organically talking about this campaign on social media. And the social media's attention actually boosted the search volume of this app in the App Store. And you can see, we helped Sumikko Gurashi app to climb the chart and ended up in as the number three top-ranked apps in the App Store. This is pretty impressive. We believe this is a good example to show you how flexible and powerful keyboards has become, you know, in performance marketing. Okay, here I'm gonna share a user… Okay, sorry, it has already started.

So, this is actually a branding campaign case study, you know, we work with our Facemoji keyboard. So, this actually talks about our new feature, this is AR emoji which is a facial expression, kind of, AI technology, which means the AR emoji, they will map like a real-time 3D emoji on top of users faces and when users doing facial expression, the keyboard will mirror these expressions in real time and then these AR emojis could be shared with your friends, you know, in the real-time chatting.

So, on to the case study of AR emoji, we actually partnered with Paramount last year in December when Paramount was promoting their "Bumblebee," transformer movie. So, the Paramount wanted to promote the movie in an organic but cost-effective way. So they provided us with the raw materials like their art assets, and our team created AR emoji out of it. So, over the two weeks, roughly two weeks of the campaign time, we were able to drive more than 3.5 million downloads of these AR emojis. And they not only, you know, allow users to interact with the character, but also, we build a lot of hype around the movie. So, this is a good example of how we leverage our AI technology and drive success in a branding campaign. This is the AR emoji in action. Actually, in the real use cases when user smile, there will be hearts popping out, you know, from the eyes area.

Okay. So, I hope you guys learned something new today about the capabilities of keyboard as being used in performance and branding campaign. Thank you so much for your time, feel free to reach out to our team by using the information provided here. And if you have any questions, I will be here. Thank you.

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