Messaging is becoming the primary way many humans communicate and consequently, messaging applications, from the humble text message to exotic ideas like Ping (it literally is just you sending a ping to another human) are popping up like weeds.  Massive investments are being made in a wide range of start ups and the stakes are high.  Where is messaging headed, and who will be the winners and losers?

Mark Beccue Consulting will publish “Messaging Evolution” a market research report to address messaging trends in early January 2015.

The report will review market evolution for SMS/MMS/RCS and the wide variety of OTT messaging applications blooming in the marketplace.

A review of the biggest messaging platforms, with a view of their strategic arcs, strengths and weaknesses and a forecast of MOUs
Facebook Messenger
Revenue models and forecasts for individual plays and/or new categories (i.e., secure, real-time, etc.)
Explore new segment trends, including Ephemeral, Secure (encrypted), Private (non-broadcast),Real-Time, Anonymous, Payments
Analyze new paths to revenues and exit strategies, including predicting winners and losers
Regional battlegrounds
Regulatory issues
Player profiles and analysis, both for key providers and vendors

The report will be offered directly from MBC and will also be available globally via two research platforms, Research and Marketing and ReportLinker.

More details coming soon!

Editorial Note: Chris Rock is not running for President as far as I know, though maybe he should. This example is purely fictional.

You are inching along on your morning commute and you notice a campaign billboard:

“Chris Rock For President. Why Not?, text CROCK (27625)”

Phone handy, you text the number and a minute later you receive a text message from Chris. Hello citizen. What do U want from your prez? Reply with keyword ‘DOIT’ to tell me via poll. Other text stuff learn more @ website thanks Chris.”

So you reply and receive another text message from Chris (in 160 characters or less): “Which of the following issues is most important to you? Choose a for Iraq, b for Medicare, c for energy crisis, d for bad haircuts or e for other”. You’re hot about the impending national hair crisis so you reply with one keystroke and receive a message (in 160 characters or less) from Chris: “I’m thinking I’ll push 2 shave everyone’s head bald. Would you like to tell me how I should approach this issue?”. Sure you do, so you reply again with one keystroke, receive another message (160 characters or less): Here are some alternative approaches to bad hair. Which do you like best? If other, text ‘f’ . You reply again with one keystroke and get a final message:. Thanks for your input man. It’s been real! OK if we continue to discuss stuff periodically thru the campaign? Well sure! Why not?

It could happen like that this campaign season. The front running democrats, Obama, Clinton and Edwards, have announced they would incorporate text messaging into their marketing mix. Political campaigns and advocacy groups have always given lip service to the idea of listening to the people, but it’s nearly impossible to listen largely across vast audiences. The mobile phone can change that. More ubiquitous than PCs and severely handy, mobile phones mean communication anytime, anywhere.

There are so many creative ways mobile phones could be used. Text messaging options include alerts, polls, interactive TV (ala American Idol), interactive live rallies. Inbed a URL into a text message and if the consumer has a data plan with their carrier, they can click on the URL and the phone will immediately open a mobile internet page (called WAP, but who cares?). Other mobile internet and mobile TV capabilities exist as well, though market acceptance of those technologies are smaller than text and not as interactive.

But mobile marketing never happens as a stand alone strategy. It must be part of a comprehensive marketing mix. Why?

Consumers have rights, and the wireless carriers are tireless guardians of your right not to be spammed. All mobile communications that are not person to person (me texting you, me calling you) are opt-in only. The rules are also very strict about the ease of opting out. If you’ve had enough, you simply text “stop” or “quit” or “end”, and it’s over, no questions asked.

There are challenges. There are many components to the mobile marketing ecosystem, including content application providers, connectivity aggregators and the wireless carriers – which means dependencies are a key factor in managing a program. The best place to start is the U.S. mobile industry’s website for Common Short Codes – . There, you can lease a short code and review potential application and aggregator vendors. Common Short Codes, like “CROCK” could become as common an element of a marketing mix as a URL. That’s true of any brand marketing interested in interactivity, not just political campaigns.

There is an interesting story in today’s Advertising Age . According to Ad Age, in a Forrester Research study to released today, brand marketers were asked if they would recommend their agency to others.  Apparently only 21% of those surveyed would. 

So Ad Age asks appropriately, “How can agencies remain central marketing partners in an age of increased specialization driven by an increasingly digital media environment?”

I think there are two things ad agencies must do — 1) change their business model so they aren’t dependent on selling TV media and 2) become digital marketing experts.

Two years ago, I presented text messaging capabilities to the president of a mid-sized agency who said she found the concept intriguing, but she didn’t see how to adequately monitize the offering.  Media markup is a flawed business model for agencies, as it doesn’t adequately assign value to the agencies’ work and expertise.  I think you will see more agencies look for greater compensation for the content they create (creative) and for the consulting expertise they may bring to the table. 

This plays into point two, becoming digital marketing experts.  Through the conversations I’ve had with brand managers and through the body of work evident especially in the mobile marketing arena, most brand managers have completely bypassed their ad agencies to produce mobile marketing initiatives.  These brand managers have developed into the most comprehensive, objective experts on mobile marketing by default.  But it’s a lot of work — mobile marketing, with the possibilities of mobile search, banner ads, text campaigns, social networking mobilzed, etc. makes for a lot to keep up with.  Savvy ad agencies will step up to become expert advisers to their brands and get paid to do it.

By Mark Beccue

WAP and MMS, Mobile Internet, banner ads and embedded product placement in mobile games are all buzz words currently associated with Mobile Marketing.  Wow, it’s all so fancy and whiz-bang!   Yet let us not forget the humble text message, possibly the most powerful tool in mobile marketing.   For those brands and agencies looking into mobile marketing in the
U.S., make sure you understand the actual number of consumers you can reach today and in the near future with various mobile data applications.  In this sense, whiz-bang (WAP, MMS, mobile internet) gets whupped by text messaging. 

To get to real numbers, consider handset/device capability and consumer uptake of mobile data applications.   In regards to handset/device capability, more than 90% of all mobile phones in the
U.S. today are text-capable, or roughly 186 million of an estimated 207 million total subscribers ( .  Approximately 60% of
U.S. mobile phones are Internet-capable.  A smaller percentage of mobile phones are MMS capable.  Winner – text messaging.

As far as consumer uptake of mobile data applications, Telephia ( reports that 41% of
U.S. mobile subscribers were using text messaging at the end of 2005.  Comparatively, 22% of
U.S. mobile subscribers paid for mobile web access and 13% for MMS services at the end of 2005.
 So strictly applying these percentages, a mobile marketers’ addressable market in the
U.S. would be 84.8 million consumers for text messaging, 45.5 million for mobile internet and 26.9 for MMS.  However, both the mobile internet and MMS numbers are skewed.  The mobile internet users number includes mobile email devices, like Blackberry and Treo, and is not reflective of the true number of mobile subscribers who browse the mobile internet.  Telephia again provides an estimate for that, reporting that 34.6 million subscribers actively use mobile internet*A1155564000000*B1155592166000*DgroupByIndustry*J1*N1000001&newsLang=en&beanID=1802668732&viewID=news_view  . Telephia reports that Yahoo email is the most visited site, with MSN Hotmail also in the top 5.  When it comes to MMS, the traffic reported is almost entirely person-to-person messaging (sending photos, etc.).  The wireless industry is working to establish procedures and acceptance to enable Mobile Marketing MMS. 

So addressable market of consumers for mobile marketing applications looks something like this – n       Text, 84.8 million subscribersn       Mobile Internet (sans email), 34.6 million subscribersn       MMS, potentially 26.9 million (today this number reflects primarily person to person picture messaging) The mobile internet and MMS numbers will grow, but it doesn’t appear that text messaging is done expanding either.  For the next few years, the winner is text messaging. 

So it doesn’t look as sexy, so what?  Making text messaging applications work in marketing will take a new mindset for advertisers; unlike the more familiar internet methods used for MMS and mobile internet applications. This is where the creative marketing minds for America’s brands and ad agencies will make the
U.S. market the biggest mobile marketing market in the world.  The creatives need to explore the multitude of text applications available to them.  A sampling – interactive TV, voting, polling, quizzes, sweepstakes, push alerts, callbacks, embedded URLs, location based services, intelligent interaction (ongoing CRM), sponsored flirt and chat, prescription reminders, bank account balance check, appointment scheduling.
 Marketers need to educate themselves about text applications and vendors out there that can help them tap into the 84+ million Americans already predisposed to text messaging. 


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