We met Seohyung Ahn, CEO of Bytebite, developer of PlayKeyboard, to talk about changing market trends, animated content, and Gen Z’s communication preferences. PlayKeyboard is available in 212 countries and is one of the top-rated keyboards on Google Play. Since 2020, PlayKeyboard provides Stipop stickers to their users, among other animated content.
Stipop: Would you introduce PlayKeyboard and yourself?
PlayKeyboard is a keyboard app that lets users enjoy their favorite characters and animated content right inside the keyboard. All the contents we have are responsive and are being suggested to you while you are typing your messages.
My name is Seohyung Ahn. I am the CEO of Bytebite operating PlayKeyboard. Our goal is to make mobile communication more fun by brightening up the keyboard millions of people use every day.
So you and Stipop share the same goal. Stipop is also working on making the online communication experience more dynamic.
Yes, we work towards a similar goal.
Who are your main users by location, age, and other characteristics?
40% of our users are global users, and all of them joined us organically. This includes users from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries of Southeast Asia. Even though our product is not gender- or age-specific, about 70% of our users are female, and 80% of them are teenagers or in their early 20s. In other words, it is commonly used by Gen Z women 13~23 years old.
Your app’s rating on Google Play is 4.5! What do you think are the reasons for such a high score and great reviews from users?
* PlayKeyboard is only available on Google Play for now
It’s really sad because it used to be 4.7! (laughs)
According to the reviews, users just love the idea of the animated content within the keyboard itself. While other keyboard apps offer basic non-animated functions only, PlayKeyboard provides a unique experience with animated elements. I guess that is the reason why a lot of users love us.
What do you do to increase user acquisition?
In the earlier stages, we were focusing on YouTube ads until the first 1 million downloads. Most of our users were coming after they found out their friends were using our keyboard. As our service is based on animated content, YouTube advertising worked way better than image or text ads on Facebook and Instagram.
At the moment, we are not spending any penny on marketing, but we still get new users. On average, one organic user brings one more user. Users can send animated characters to their friends, and these friends always ask where it is coming from – this is how it works.
What do you do to increase user engagement and retention?
This is our next challenge. This year, we are planning a new business strategy to increase these indicators. We realized there are way more people that enjoy animated keyboard, and a significant number of those potential users are willing to pay money for using it. Now we will work on market size, which will allow us to increase the number of paid app users.
First of all, we plan to launch iOS in June 2021, the market that we haven’t had a chance to cover yet. More than half of the audience we target, female GenZ, are using iPhones, so we want to reach this market as well.
After that, we will try to increase the amount of paid app users.
Was there any specific reason why you decided to choose stickers over GIFs or emojis?
In summer 2019, when we just started to consider integrating Stipop stickers, other keyboard apps already began to offer stickers. Back then, we had quite a few requests about stickers from our users as well. Market trends are changing, so listening to user needs is essential, and that is why we decided to connect with Stipop.
Did you have any concerns before you proceeded with Stipop?
Since we are a small organization and have limited development resources, we were not 100% sure that we would be able to pull it off. It was our first time trying the 3rd party integration, and we were not really sure that it could significantly increase our revenue back then. But at the same time, since we already had requests from our users, we couldn’t overlook their needs and changing market trends. Those users who wanted to switch to PlayKeyboard from other keyboard apps were already familiar with stickers. That is why we decided to have Stipop stickers in the PlayKeyboard.
How would you feel if you could no longer use Stipop?
We would be very disappointed in many ways—especially our users who use and enjoy Stipop stickers daily. They were pleasantly surprised that all the stickers are free, and we believe this fact contributed a lot to why our users like the stickers so much. It would be too sad without Stipop!
What would you likely use as an alternative if Stipop were no longer available?
Um… another option… I don’t know… Hmm…
I think it’d be nice if we developed it ourselves. That would be hard… (laughs)
“Our users were pleasantly surprised with the quality of stickers, and now they love them. We recommend Stipop to mobile messengers, communities, and apps with the feed comments feature that target GenZ just like us and follow changing market trends.”
What is the primary benefit that you have received from Stipop?
We’re not any less than any other keyboards! We don’t hear that PlayKeyboard is missing something that other keyboard apps have. If there were no stickers in the PlayKeyboard, users who joined PlayKeyboard wouldn’t stay. Also, it helped our users freely exchange various stickers.
What types of businesses do you think would benefit most from Stipop?
I don’t think I should mention other keyboard apps here because we are competitors (laughing). But stickers are commonly used in conversations, so we recommend Stipop to mobile messengers, communities, and apps with the feed comments feature. I want to recommend Stipop to services that target Gen Z just like us.
What do you think is the advantage of Stipop? For example, API function and docs, sticker content itself, Dashboard, Customer Support, etc.
More than anything, I think it’s content itself. There are so many stickers that our users love. I think there was an “AHA moment” that users could feel with stickers. And also communication. It was great that Stipop thought of us as important partners.
What is your expansion plan?
We will launch a studio platform around May. Until now, all the content we provided was handled directly through B2B partnerships. We currently have 300+ contents, but signing contracts with many content providers and working with them directly is challenging. So we plan to launch an open market for content providers.
IOS app is also scheduled to be released in June, and we are planning to enter the global market in Southeast Asia.
What would be the ultimate goal for PlayKeyboard?
PlayKeyboard has a significant meaning. Every other app has somewhat the same keyboard – it takes half of the smartphone screen, always either black or white, and that’s it. But for our users, it is crucial to access their favorite content and interact with it. So the ultimate goal of PlayKeyboard is to make mobile communication more fun and make users happy.
As for my personal goal, I would like to achieve 10 million MAUs! (laughing) It would be great to see 10 million users having fun with PlayKeyboard.