A sticker is a detailed illustration of a character that represents an emotion or action that is a mix of cartoons and Japanese smiley-like "emojis". They have more variety than emoticons and have a basis from internet "reaction face" culture due to their ability to portray body language with a facial reaction. Stickers are elaborate, character-driven emoticons and give people a lightweight means to communicate through kooky animations.
Stickers were first popularized by the Korean-developed mobile messaging app Line. Naver developed the app with the Japanese market in mind, as KakaoTalk was already the dominant mobile messaging service in South Korea. The stickers' blend of the ubiquitous emoji system with anime-styled artwork, and their use as a substitute for typing out longer messages in Japanese text, helped the feature appeal to Japanese audiences. As Line's dominance grew, the mascot characters featured within Line's sticker sets also became popular as merchandise.
In 2013, stickers began to expand beyond Asian markets: Path added stickers in March 2013 as part of its new private messaging system, followed by Facebook's main and Facebook Messenger mobile apps in April. In July, sticker functionality was extended to Facebook's web interface, while Kik Messenger also added stickers. Startup companies devoted to stickers also emerged, helping produce them on behalf of brands as part of advertising campaigns.
By November 2013, a survey of mobile messaging users found that 40% of those surveyed used stickers on a daily basis, with Indonesians showing the highest amount of daily usage (46%), followed by China (43%), South Korea (38%) and the United States (35%). Out of those who did regularly use stickers, 20% had had paid for stickers or emoji in mobile messaging apps at least once.
In 2016, Snapchat acquired Bitstrips for its app Bitmoji, which allows users to create custom stickers featuring a personal avatar