Mobile Advertisings Best-kept Secret

Jeremy Copp, CEO of Rapid Mobile Media, argues the case for vanilla-flavoured SMS as a prime mobile advertising medium

JeremyCoppRapidMobile The mobile advertising market is growing in size at a prodigious rate, but in absolute terms, is still tiny in value compared to other media such as print, broadcast and online. There is a perception within the advertising industry that the mobile space is a difficult one to address, with limited inventory and reach, compromised display banner ad formats, and a lack of metrics to provide proof of a return on investment.
To a certain extent, these criticisms are valid, with some factions of the mobile marketing industry having something of a blinkered WAP banner ad mentality. But there are alternative formats that address many of the current needs of the advertising world: chief amongst these has been known to users, providers and advertisers alike for decades the SMS text message.
By injecting targeted adverts into existing SMS service messages (or indeed using the whole SMS for a marketing message) and, crucially, providing an interaction mechanism that is measurable on a per-advert, per-user level, SMS advertising addresses the key needs of advertisers and marketers, namely:

  • High volumes of inventory there are billions of service SMSs sent globally each day.
  • Reach the ability to receive and interact with SMS is ubiquitous: every mobile phone has this ability and hence all users can be reached with campaigns.
  • Targeted such a personal medium as the mobile phone allows for highly contextualised advert delivery based on a wide range of parameters, including the content of the service message, location, time of day and other user information.
  • Measurable the ability to determine exactly how many individual users click to interact with the advert (either click-to-call or click-to-mobile site) provides not only a measurable ROI for the campaign, but the opportunity to inform future ad delivery on an individual basis.

Well-known concept
SMS is a well-known and easily understood concept that means it is easier to sell the mobile advertising proposition to brands. As a permission-based service, it offers the opportunity to deliver campaigns within the unused space in an existing service for example football result, horoscope or directory enquiries services or as the entire message for direct marketing campaigns (a retail loyalty programme for example). The highly categorised and personal nature of the medium drives up value for all participants. The advertiser is able to directly target the desired audience, with no waste of inventory or campaign spend; the consumer receives personally relevant advertising and is therefore more likely to recall and/or interact with the campaign; and the publisher or service provider is able to further monetise the service, potentially to the extent of covering the SMS message delivery costs.
The preconception of SMS advertising is of mobile spam: sending the same message to (an often unqualified) list of mobile numbers. True SMS advertising, and where the most value lies for all involved, is in delivering the most appropriate contextualised advert for a (known) user at a given time, based upon as wide a range of parameters as possible, and providing measurement of interaction rates for the campaigns. In this scenario, SMS represents premium advertising inventory, achieving effective CPM rates in excess of 100 many times that of other mobile display advertising formats either on a straightforward volume or a cost-per-click basis.

Winning combination
The winning combination of personalised delivery and measurement of individual consumer interaction with adverts offers the prospect of extending the advertisers engagement with the consumer through the cycle of attracting, engaging and retaining them as a customer. By linking individual consumers responses with customer service or CRM systems, a richer picture of their preferences can be built to drive increased relevance of future adverts and improve loyalty. The direct interaction mechanism offered by a click-to-action mechanic in an SMS offers an easy to use customer acquisition method a consumer can be connected directly to an existing call centre or further product information, without being required to remember or re-enter any details.
The truth is that a powerful mobile advertising format offering ubiquitious, personal and highly contextualised delivery in high volumes has been available to the industry all along: the SMS text message. However, it requires ad serving technology capable of both selecting the most appropriate advert for each consumer at a given time based upon a complex set of parameters, and measuring each of those users interactions with each advert in order to be able to extract maximum value from the medium for all participants in the value chain.