What’s the difference between OTT messaging apps and SMS?

Priyank Parikh, Global VP of Solutions Engineering & PMO at mGage, considers the difference between the two, and explains why SMS is a more effective markerting channel.

Over-the-top messaging apps, usually referred to as “OTT messaging apps” are instant messaging services provided by third parties as an alternative to text messaging services provided by a mobile network operator. OTT messaging apps like WeChat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have become fairly popular among consumers, which has attracted marketers. However, the ubiquity, reliability, and familiarity of SMS often make it a better choice for mobile marketing campaigns. Read on to learn more about the key differences between OTT messaging apps and SMS. 

SMS campaigns work anywhere, for anyone
SMS works the same, regardless of location and device type, and it is the only interactive mobile messaging channel that is globally ubiquitous. OTT messaging apps, on the other hand, vary significantly in popularity and functionality. For example, Facebook Messenger is the most popular messaging app in the United States, but in China, consumers use WeChat.

OTT messaging apps also vary by region when it comes to requirements, features and protocols. Since OTT apps are relatively new, governments are still developing regulations and requirements for protecting consumers. This affects the functionality of OTT apps in each country. Although regulations regarding content vary by country, SMS features and protocols are universal. You can create bulk texts to send anywhere in the world through a single platform.

SMS also works regardless of device type. Consumers don’t have to download an app to receive SMS messages. Considering 71 per cent of apps downloads are deleted within 90 days, (source: Upland Software), this is a huge advantage of SMS. You don’t have to be technologically savvy or have a smartphone to receive a text! And, since more than half of mobile users don’t own a smartphone (source: Bankmycell), relying on OTT messaging apps could result in missing a large portion of the addressable market.

SMS supports a diverse range of use-cases
SMS supports marketing, operations, and many other use-cases. This is not the case with all OTT messaging apps, which often only support marketing or operations. In many cases, this is because OTT apps do not have the capacity or desire to regulate spam.

With SMS, you can send consumers a coupon and an order confirmation link, all through the same platform. Using multiple platforms to communicate with users in different scenarios creates a disjointed and sometimes irritating customer experience.

Monitoring and governance
SMS is subject to monitoring and governance from multiple sources, which helps protect consumers and maintain a trusted relationship. Mobile operators and industry associations work tirelessly to ensure A2P SMS messaging is not abused. Regulations vary by country, but there are repercussions for failing to abide by them. Messages that violate these guidelines will not be sent to consumers and may result in carriers blocking brands’ shortcodes entirely

These measures have significantly limited the number of Spam messages sent via SMS. Messaging apps have not been subject to the same measures, which has occasionally resulted in regional governments stepping in to block apps that are acting irresponsibly. We have seen this recently with the removal of the ability to process transactions via WeChat in America and Brazil’s ban on WhatsApp Pay.

Data security
As consumers become more aware of how apps collect and use their personal data, privacy concerns have risen to the forefront. OTT messaging apps commonly ask for access to the camera, microphone, and other apps such as Facebook. SMS doesn’t require sharing personal information or granting access to software or hardware. It also doesn’t require linking with third-party platforms like Facebook or Google.

SMS is a reliable and proven solution for bulk messaging. It has a larger audience than any single OTT platform and is trusted by large brands across the world to deliver messages quickly and seamlessly to customers. Ready to learn more? Learn more about our SMS Services and contact us when you’re ready for your free consultation!

To speak with an mGage consultant and learn more about how you can implement mobile messaging strategies, get in-touch with us today!