Archive for December 7th, 2007

According to Mobile Marketer, a daily mobile marketing industry newsletter that started appearing in my inbox yesterday and that claims to be “the news leader in mobile marketing, media and commerce,” there was a 22 percent increase “in the number of consumers who received SMS text ads in the United States”, (3Q Year of Year) garnering “an 11 percent response rate.”Mobile Marketer cites M:Metrics as a source, although I found no mention of the third quarter data among its public releases.

Giving Mobile Marketer the benefit of the doubt (which may be a bit of a stretch considering the publication’s first issue featured a self-serving column written by an email services firm that felt more like a sales pitch than an “opinion” piece), I have some difficulty with the overall concept of “SMS Advertising.”SMS is by definition a “pull” marketing channel, meaning that all SMS engagements are user-initiated. If, after the initial engagement, the user receives a marketing message contained within a response message, I would hardly classify that as “advertising.” By most accounts an “Advertising” message would involve some sort of “public broadcast” to a large group of people. If I had to classify this type of marketing, it would probably fall somewhere between Direct Response, Sponsorship or even CRM (if there’s ongoing messaging activity to a list of mobile “opt-ins”).

Why split hairs? Well, for one thing, its important for the Mobile Marketing industry as a whole to get behind a set of standards and terms that are easily understood by the overall marketing community at large. By incorrectly calling this type of activity “advertising,” clients are getting misaligned perceptions about the medium and its uses, incorrectly thinking that they can “blast out a SMS message to the public,” advertising-style.

Interestingly enough, there are some genuine SMS Advertising campaigns going on in the US market. Who, you ask, would have the nerve to ignore MMA best practices and blast out SMS messages without first getting permission to do so? That would be the only group with no fear of the carriers coming in and shutting them down… The carriers themselves! That’s right, “operators are the main source of SMS ads,” states Mark Burk of M:Metrics.

I think we can all agree that unsolicited SMS ads are not the future of mobile marketing. That said, if we are to speak of “Mobile Advertising,” lets be careful of what exactly we are talking about. There are many legimate forms of mobile advertising, from mobile web banners, to mobile video spots, and even in-game ad units. All are legitimate advertising channels because the user has accepted these mediums as ad-supported, and while consumers certainly don’t welcome (most) ads with open arms, they put up with them so long as they don’t dominate the experience.

The same cannot truly be said for mobile messaging.