Exactly one year ago, everyone on social media was in a frenzy over a new social media entrant, Bondee. Bondee is a social app that is reminiscent of games such as The Sims and Habbo Hotel.
It is a next-generation virtual avatar social app that was created by Singapore-based tech firm Metadream. The app allows users to create diverse and trendy avatars as well as to keep their friends posted on their creations.
Fast forward one year later and you don't really hear anyone talking about Bondee anymore. However, the app is far from dead. In August last year,the social platform appointment Fei Yu as its new CEO. It said at the time that it was looking to elevate the growth of its platform and lead it into a new era of innovation and expansion.
With the addition of a new CEO, Bondee saw growth in its offices in Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing with the inclusion of new talent. Additionally, it now has employees working remotely in Bangkok, Jakarta and Taipei.
With its growing talent, Bondee managed to successfully beta launch a new version of its app. This new version adds a completely innovative use of augmented reality (AR) technology, not yet seen in the mobile space, said Lionel Sim, head of commercial at Bondee in a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.
"This advancement is there to drive our concept of what AR should be, giving an online-to-offline experience for users and allowing Bondee users to express themselves through their avatars. This gives them the means to be completely creative," said Sim. "This is in stark contrast to how AR is currently being used in mobile apps, which usually sees a pre-rendered object put into the real world for shopping or marketing purposes – and can lack user engagement and stickiness."
The new version in beta has since rolled out in Singapore and Thailand and Bondee said that for 2024, plans to roll it out in the APAC region are in progress.
"We are confident that this will give a strong boost to our user base and engagement numbers moving forward," Sim said when asked what its user base and engagement was like a year after launch.
"We have already gotten amazing feedback from testers in Singapore and Thailand and will leverage on the momentum to generate more engagement across the region in the upcoming year," Sim added.
Growing the platform
When it comes to growing the Bondee platform in 2024, the social networking app said that it is important to focus on the needs of the local markets.
"We believe our mission to merge the virtual and real worlds, to get more people outside, applies universally. But at the same time, having our finger on the pulse in local markets is critical," Sim said.
To do this, Bondee plans to tap its talent across the region as well as to add more staffers to focus on user growth in individual markets.
"We will tailor our plans to each market, which will have unique factors catering to the audiences in each of them," he said.
In tandem, Sim said that Bondee will continue to improve and add features to Bondee, building on the foundation it has established with the new version of Bondee and its AR capabilities.
Leveraging brand partnerships
With increased manpower and presence in markets across the region, Sim added that it will also now be working with brands much more closely now that its platform’s capabilities have opened up more possibilities to collaborate creatively.
"Partnerships with brands and merchants are an important part of our ecosystem development. I am already in discussion with many of them, so we can work together on new product development, in addition to how we can make creatively leverage on our current version of Bondee," he said.
He added that the creative part of the process was extremely important as user experience is its top priority.
"If we ensure the experience is amazing, brands will be able to engage with Bondee users with no friction, and lead to both growth for the platform, and potential revenue generation," explained Sim.
Brand partnerships however are not the only way forward for Bondee. Advertising that, again, adds to the user experience, will also play a crucial role in its 2024 success. Sim said:
We are very mindful to ensure interactions with brands are a two-way communication channel.
He added that while telling brands about the new and innovative features on its app, it also invites its partners to help them shape its future advertising products and ecosystem.
"The merger of virtual and real worlds, our online-to-offline concept, is a huge part of Bondee. We will subsequently also launch channels and official account pages in 3D that will allow merchants to leverage on Bondee’s online to offline capabilities," said Sim.
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