This Week's Agenda: SMS SOS?

  |  March 18, 2002   |  Comments

SMS is coming. Can U.S. marketers create persuasive text messages on tiny cell phone screens? Will American consumers accept them?

This week, I'm at the CTIA show in Orlando, FL, where much of the excitement is over the advertising potential of a new online medium.

SMS stands for short message service. Sprint advertised it heavily during the Winter Olympics (the commercial in which the sleepy skier was tricked into falling out of the gondola into deep powder snow).

SMS messages can only be 160 characters long. They go through a separate server and run in a separate channel from voice calls, so they nearly always get through. SMS messages can be sent to (or received by) Internet addresses.

SMS spread from the bottom up. Young users had created their own shorthand, such as C U l8tr (see you later), before service providers were even ready to charge for the service. It wasn't documented, but it was essentially free.

Like most mobile technology, SMS spread from overseas to the U.S. It's wildly popular in Europe and Asia, with over 20 billion SMS messages sent each month. U.S. carriers were slow to offer interoperability among SMS networks and were distracted by that awful WAP protocol.

Suddenly, SMS is hot.

Keynote Systems has begun measuring SMS networks' performance.

Mobile phone makers have announced Wireless Village, an initiative aimed at making SMS compatible with other mobile text services.

The first SMS scams have been sighted, and SMS has been used in law enforcement.

SMS-based news services are emerging, as is a shopping service.

Early surveys found European users would welcome personalized marketing messages sent via SMS.

There are still hurdles. Though European carriers share SMS messages seamlessly, U.S. carriers don't work and play well together. Some SMS messages can take days to reach their destinations.

Still, solutions are coming and marketers aren't far behind.

InphoMatch Inc. of Chantilly, VA, rolled out an SMS gateway that's already delivering 30 million messages per month, even before carriers started advertising it.

Vibes Media of Evanston, IL, is offering "wireless coupons" in conjunction with community and address book services.

The big cellular companies -- AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, SBC, and Cingular -- are here in Orlando pushing their own plans to make big money from what most analysts call a "teen obsession."

5th Finger of Australia is among the first outfits to specialize in SMS marketing. (One early client is Guinness beer). This month, it launched an SMS marketing gateway called air-cast.

Because SMS messages must go through a carrier-operated gateway, permission will be imperative for SMS marketing, 5th Finger says.

Add the mandate for "Wireless E911" location services to SMS messaging, and you start to see possibilities. Teenagers might want to be offered a bargain as they walk by a store -- they might even pay to receive a coupon.

Will Americans buy into this technology and accept marketing strategies that have been imported? That's what I'm here trying to find out.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dana Blankenhorn

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business reporter for more than 20 years. He has written parts of five books and currently contributes to Advertising Age, Business Marketing, NetMarketing, the Chicago Tribune, Boardwatch, CLEC Magazine, and other publications. His own newsletter, A-Clue.Com, is published weekly.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...