Marketing on a mobile phone known as SMS Marketing has become increasingly popular ever since the rise of SMS (Short Message Service) in the early 2000s in Europe and some parts of Asia when businesses started to collect mobile phone numbers and send off wanted (or unwanted) content. On average, SMS messages are read within four minutes, making them highly convertible.
Over the past few years SMS Marketing has become a legitimate advertising channel in some parts of the world. This is because unlike email over the public internet, the carriers who police their own networks have set guidelines and best practices for the mobile media industry (including mobile advertising). The IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) and the Mobile Marketing Association, as well, have established guidelines and are evangelizing the use of the mobile channel for marketers. While this has been fruitful in developed regions such as North America, Western Europe and some other countries, mobile SPAM messages (SMS sent to mobile subscribers without a legitimate and explicit opt-in by the subscriber) remain an issue in many other parts or the world, partly due to the carriers selling their member databases to third parties. In India, however, government's efforts of creating National Do Not Call Registry have helped cellphone users to stop SMS advertisements by sending a simple SMS or calling 1909.
Mobile marketing via SMS has expanded rapidly in Europe and Asia as a new channel to reach the consumer. SMS initially received negative media coverage in many parts of Europe for being a new form of spam as some advertisers purchased lists and sent unsolicited content to consumer's phones; however, as guidelines are put in place by the mobile operators, SMS has become the most popular branch of the Mobile Marketing industry with several 100 million advertising SMS sent out every month in Europe alone.
In Europe the first cross-carrier SMS shortcode campaign was run by Txtbomb in 2001 for an Island Records release, In North America it was the Labatt Brewing Company in 2002. Over the past few years mobile short codes have been increasingly popular as a new channel to communicate to the mobile consumer. Brands have begun to treat the mobile shortcode as a mobile domain name allowing the consumer to text message the brand at an event, in store and off any traditional media.
SMS Marketing services typically run off a short code, but sending text messages to an email address is another methodology. Short codes are 5 or 6 digit numbers that have been assigned by all the mobile operators in a given country for the use of brand campaign and other consumer services. Due to the high price of short codes of $500-$1000 a month, many small businesses opt to share a short code in order to reduce monthly costs. The mobile operators vet every short code application before provisioning and monitor the service to make sure it does not diverge from its original service description. Another alternative to sending messages by short code or email is to do so through one's own dedicated phone number. Besides short codes, inbound SMS is very often based on long numbers (international number format, e.g. +44 7624 805000 or US number format e.g. 757 772 8555), which can be used in place of short codes or premium-rated short messages for SMS reception in several applications, such as product promotions and campaigns. Long numbers are internationally available, as well as enabling businesses to have their own number, rather than short codes which are usually shared across a number of brands. Additionally, long numbers are non-premium inbound numbers.
One key criterion for provisioning is that the consumer opts in to the service. The mobile operators demand a double opt in from the consumer and the ability for the consumer to opt out of the service at any time by sending the word STOP via SMS. These guidelines are established in the MMA Consumer Best Practices Guidelines which are followed by all mobile marketers in the United States. InCanada, opt in will be mandatory once the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act comes in force in mid 2012.
Mobile marketing via MMS
MMS mobile marketing can contain a timed slideshow of images, text, audio and video. This mobile content is delivered via MMS (Multimedia Message Service). Nearly all new phones produced with a color screen are capable of sending and receiving standard MMS message. Brands are able to both send (mobile terminated) and receive (mobile originated) rich content through MMS A2P (application-to-person) mobile networks to mobile subscribers. In some networks, brands are also able to sponsor messages that are sent P2P (person-to-person).
Good examples of mobile-originated MMS marketing campaigns are Motorola's ongoing campaigns at House of Blues venues, where the brand allows the consumer to send their mobile photos to the LED board in real-time as well as blog their images online.
In-game mobile marketing
There are essentially four major trends in mobile gaming right now: interactive real-time 3D games, massive multi-player games and social networking games. This means a trend towards more complex and more sophisticated, richer game play. On the other side, there are the so-called casual games, i.e. games that are very simple and very easy to play. Most mobile games today are such casual games and this will probably stay so for quite a while to come.
Brands are now delivering promotional messages within mobile games or sponsoring entire games to drive consumer engagement. This is known as mobile advergaming or Ad-funded mobile game.