Social app Bondee has been the talk of the town over the last week and if you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re missing out. Bondee, a next-generation virtual avatar social app that was created by Singapore-based tech firm Metadream, allows users to create diverse and trendy avatars as well as to keep their friends posted on their creations.
Reminiscent of games such as The Sims and Habbo Hotel, the app allows users to “express themselves freely by sharing their mood and status. Bondee also allows users to personalise their space, visit friends, and post comments as if they were actually living with them,” Metadream wrote in a release.
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While Bondee has been gaining significant traction with little to no marketing, it also has been plagued with issues related to its data security. For example, this weekend, rumors began circulating that the credit card information of users were being leaked by the platform. The company immediately addressed and quashed these allegations.
“Recently, it has come to our attention that there are rumours circulating on various social media platforms alleging that the credit card information of Bondee users had been leaked through their use of the Bondee platform,” Metadream said in a statement on Instagram on January 27. “We would like to assure our users that such rumors are false and untrue, as Metadream does not currently collect users' credit card information or any other financial information.”
The firm also assured users that it has done a precautionary review of its systems and confirmed that the data of users remains safe and secure.
While these allegations certainly did not paint Bondee in a good light, a quick check on social will show that users are still actively creating their avatars. The app’s rising popularity has also piqued the interests of advertisers and marketers who have been slowly but surely figuring out if this platform can help them engage with their audiences.
An example of this is beer company 1664 Blanc who joined the platform in an attempt to interact and connect with its audience over the love of beer. The company, with the help of its agency PROTOCOL, invited its consumers to add 1664 Singapore as a friend on Bondee and stated that the first 50 who do so will win a four-pack of 1664 Blanc.
"Its fast-growing user base presented a great opportunity for us to let people sample our product - in much the same way they are testing out the features of this new platform," said a 1664 Blanc spokesperson when MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out. "Bondee enables us to personify the brand with an avatar and a cool room. It currently looks like there might be a fair bit of customisations available for the user as well and that makes them identifiable as groups with different preferences, which would aid any marketer."
While this might just be one of the first of many activations that we will see roll out over the coming weeks, the question we want to explore today is if the app is here to stay or is it just a passing fad?
Is Bondee worth looking into for advertising?
When it comes to looking at the advertising potential of Bondee, it is first important to note that Bondee, in a matter of weeks, has racked up a large user base. “I see Bondee expanding well into Asia. Given that Bondee is already earning social currency, racking up over a million downloads on Google Play in under a month from its release, it's no surprise,” said Stephanie Phua, the performance director of media group, dentsu Singapore.
She added that marketers and advertisers have already been keeping a close eye on metaverse developments, particularly in the past year. As such, Bondee presents an extended platform of the metaverse, allowing people to connect in a new-yet-nostalgic way.
“There are multi-faceted opportunities that the developers could tap into for future monetisation and in seeking new and unique user experiences, this new social platform should be no different,” she continued.
Bondee also combines features of both life simulation games and social media into one single app. For example, we always use emojis for communication when we use social media apps. When you send a clapping emoji in Bondee, your avatar in Bondee would actually clap its hands, and that makes the communication more “real” and this makes the Bondee experience more interactive and fun, explained Serm Teck Choon, the co-founder and CEO of Antsomi, a regional marketing technology company.
Agreeing with Phua, Serm added that considering that life simulation-oriented social media apps are all about “spaces”, it presents an interesting opportunity for brands to place messages inside rooms. One area brands can consider is in allowing Bondee users to place their products or messages inside their rooms and allowing the users to make money from these virtual spaces if their friends visit them and see the products and messages.
“This will align with the belief that our avatars can make money by doing something in the virtual world, which will also create a viral effect,” he added.
Arguably, there is much potential that can be explored particularly because Bondee has been rather groundbreaking in its technology, Matthew Zeng, the managing director of creative agency DSTNCT said. “The huge potential that I do see with Bondee would be how they can successfully marry Web2 and Web3. So far, no one has really done that. One possible way to do that is to convert all these avatars into NFTs and start building virtual worlds in-app,” said Zeng.
“You’ll start to see glimpses of that with Bondee Floating (a feature on the app that lets users sail while picking up items and exploring the world). Social network building on blockchain could be really interesting because it solves identity fraud and hacking which is a huge problem on social media now. And if Bondee can get it right, it could very well chart the way for a seamless transition between Web2 and Web3. I would keep an eye out on this.”
Could there be possible drawbacks to advertising on Bondee?
While the idea of advertising on Bondee and joining the hype of the metaverse seems perfect for advertising, there are certain drawbacks as noted by Phua when she commented that the advertising potential of Bondee is limited at present, much like the larger metaverse.
“Despite all the hype and novelty surrounding advertising or marketing experiences, there are relatively higher barriers to entry compared to ‘traditional’ digital marketing in the areas of creative and asset development, measurement, and sustainability.”
Phua added that Bondee has also established itself as a personal community platform and it currently has a limit of only 50 friends per user. In terms of monetisation, a “blockchain-based wallet” within the platform can be expected where they can purchase in-game currency “B-Beans” to purchase NFTs.
“Hence it remains to see how the app will seek to diversify its experiences and in turn, potential advertising avenues, in order to not turn into a fad too quickly,” she said.
Furthermore, advertising on the app is limited demographic-wise because the app appears to have been created for younger audiences and so advertising potential is curtailed, according to Phua.
What can Bondee do to remain attractive to users?
To remain attractive, it is very important that Bondee builds its number of users. Serm explained that when it comes to nabbing ad dollars, it is still a numbers game. Bondee needs to grow fast to become the leading player in the space first, and then advertisers will start to consider investing in the app.
“Bondee also needs to create more innovative and different ad solutions, leveraging the life simulation-oriented social media space to differentiate its offering from the existing social apps,” Teck said.
Agreeing with him, Phua added that building critical traction was very important and that Bondee needs to expand its audiences similar to the way Roblox did. “It will need to build its user base to a critical threshold in Asia and beyond, while also establishing clear expansion plans on how it is intending to diversify its user experiences and monetisation mechanisms,” she added.
Clearly, Bondee is an app with a lot of potential, and it will remain to be seen how brands and advertisers will utilise the tools on the platform in order to reach out to wider demographics and audiences.
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