The attractiveness of SMS or premium SMS—premium, because users are charged an incremental fee instead of a text charge, and the transaction involves the purchase of a ring tone, wallpaper or other service—is that it is the most ubiquitous format in terms of the number of handsets that support texting capability in the U.S. market, says Marriott. Specifically, she says, most research puts the penetration of texting capability at 80 percent.
Further, research and consulting firm Yankee Group estimates that about 15 percent of the 350 billion text messages exchanged worldwide monthly are commercial in nature.
Given that some of the other mobile technologies coming onboard—MMS, video—aren’t supported by the majority of handsets in operation, Marriott explains, their growth has been slowed. She anticipates these formats will see more of a boost next year, although some adventurous companies will give these types of marketing campaigns a try in 2006.
Enpocket’s Baker reports his firm is starting to do more video campaigns with four- to six-minute clips that feature offer screens at the end of the video that look like SMS. Because it’s rich media, he says, these campaigns make more of an impact than text messaging does.
For companies that simply want their ads to show up around content that another non-competitive company has delivered, there are ad insertion opportunities. Mobile search offers marketers the ability to deploy ads on the handset’s Web display. Selling real estate is limited with these ad vehicles, Baker explains, so you’re basically offering a call to action in the form of a text link or simple graphic. But because it’s display media, you’re taking the opt-in requirement out of the equation.
Marriott explains that mobile search still is in its early days, as carriers are evaluating search solutions to offer carrier-branded search. As the MMA and other parties work to develop standard definitions and guidelines for mobile search, she expects this environment to be more of an advertising player in 2007. She also predicts that the model for mobile search will be similar to that of Internet search, where it’s free for users and supported by advertising. According to a recent study conducted by the MMA, financial advisory firm Piper Jaffray puts global search revenues at $11 billion by 2008, a 100 percent leap over 2005 figures.