Role in hit drama pays off for Line message app

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Role in hit drama pays off for Line message app

While product placement (PPL) of cars, cosmetics, electronic devices and food on Korean television shows is common, a mobile messenger PPL in a popular drama series is new.

As mobile messengers become a daily means of communication, domestic corporation NHN has started an aggressive PPL marketing campaign to attract users to its messenger app Line. Although it belongs to NHN, Line has seen little use in its home country because it was released under Naver Japan. Line has 340 million registered users globally.

NHN has been striving for a slice of the nation’s mobile messenger market - dominated by KakaoTalk - by moving away from global marketing campaigns since 2012.

It stepped up local marketing with the use of TV ads and PPLs, but its breakthrough was “My Love From the Star,” which had an audience of up to 30 percent of the population.

Line served as the messenger of love between the two main characters, who often texted each other.

Line has posted 600,000 to 700,000 downloads per day since the drama aired and registered 10 million local users as of Feb. 6.

According to App Annie, a global application intelligence company and analytical firm based in Beijing and San Francisco, Line was ranked the 11th most popular app in Korea at Apple’s App Store on Feb. 26 and the 14th most popular on Feb. 27, the day of the series finale.

On the same days, it ranked 12th and 10th among free Android apps in Korea at Google Play.

On Jan. 16, when Line first appeared in the drama, it was ranked 81st at Apple’s App Store and 72nd at Google Play.

NHN is preparing follow-up promotions, such as distributing free stickers modeled after the main characters of the drama, to lure more users. When Line released the stickers on Feb. 17, users of China’s social network service Weibo immediately asked how they could download the Korean version of Line.

As the drama is likely to be exported to Southeast Asia, NHN expects to see a boost in foreign users.

NHN has also used PPL in other famous Korean shows such as “Gag Concert” and “Running Man,” which is popular in Southeast Asia.

Although Line is still struggling against KakaoTalk, more rapid growth is expected with contracts for the broadcast rights of the popular soap opera in several Asian countries, including China.

Meanwhile, with the steady sales expansion of Line, Shinhan Investment revised the existing target price of Naver’s stock upward from 960,000 won ($896) to 1 million won. Nevertheless, Naver lost 0.49 percent on the local stock market yesterday.


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