Quack Messenger, a messaging app that incorporates advertising and shares its revenue with users, believes that having a huge user base is not the only route to success.

The free iOS and Android app incorporates advertising into its user interface — either as static banner ads or video content — in a way that doesn’t stop users from carrying out their main activity of chatting.

Speaking to Mobile World Live, Fernando Vila, Quack founder and deputy CEO, noted: “The most important thing we’re trying to tell the industry is don’t bother people.”

Users are rewarded for using the app rather than anything specific related to the ads. Parameters used to determine revenue paid include usage time, how many messages are sent and received, and the number of contacts.

Users can keep track of their daily revenue share, with monthly totals ranging from a few pence to £20. There is the option to receive revenue via PayPal or to pay the money to a charity nominated by Quack. Medicins Sans Frontiere is currently supported.

Quack Messenger was launched in the UK this week after successful releases in its home market of Spain and Italy. It has built up 350,000 users in Spain since January 2013 and has racked up 150,000 in Italy since its launch the following October.

This compares to the world’s most popular messaging app WhatsApp, which has more than 500 million active monthly users.

The company realised at the outset that in order to make a messaging app a viable commercial proposition, it needed to offer something that others didn’t. “You have to be different — you have to give value to the users,” noted Guillermo Cardona, international development manager.

Such was the success of the service when it was first launched in Spain that the company had to stop actively marketing the service to give it time to secure sufficient advertising inventory. The company is now comfortable with its level of growth.

“It’s important for us to grow with a balance between advertising and users,” Vila said, explaining that more users means not enough advertising to go around and less revenue to share, while advertisers will not see a return on investment if user numbers are too low.

Confirming the view that a huge user base is not the be all and end all, Vila said: “If we are able to reach 100,000 users in a month, we’ll be very happy.”

Cardona added that the UK is a test case for whether the service will see sufficient take up in other markets in the future.

It plans to launch in Germany and potentially France in the coming months, while 2015 will see the company tackle the US and start to make inroads in Latin America.