NEW YORK: Understanding user attention on messaging apps is more important than measuring the number of monthly active users according to Kik, the chat app that claims to be used by 40% of US teens.

"As we have seen chat behaviours evolve, at Kik we've become less interested in how many messages are exchanged or how many times an app is opened, and more interested in how people engage in chatting," explained Ted Livingston, Kik CEO.

"Put more simply: we care more about attention than app taps," he wrote in a post for Medium.

Accordingly, Kik has come up with an "attention metric" that groups chat sessions into one of three categories. Active sessions see users reply to a chat message within 20 seconds; in a passive session, users take two to three minutes to reply; a sporadic session is one where users check and send messages occasionally over the course of a day.

Using this metric, Kik reported that Kik users spend about 21% of their time in an active chat state, and 79% in passive.

Further, the average US teen on Kik engages in 6.1 chat sessions a day, at 12.7 minutes per chat session, and female teens chat 35% longer than males.

There is also a category of US teen "super users", who make up 10% of Kik's user base and who engage in ten chat sessions a day on average, accounting for 157 minutes of daily chatting.

"Existing metrics tend to favour feed-based consumption rather than chat," Joel Cumming, Kik's head of data, told TechCrunch.

"Everyone can make up their own rules for [measuring monthly active users] — we could've gone down that route but didn't. The US teen market is not 600m users in size so we prefer to focus on engagement."

Data sourced from Medium, Techcrunch; additional content by Warc staff