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Advances in MMS add interactive tools for mobile marketing

Rich Eicher

Rich Eicher is CEO of Skycore

By Rich Eicher

The anticipated improvements in application-to-peer MMS (MM7) interoperability this quarter and next, as announced by the Mobile Marketing Association, will offer cross-carrier, interactive multimedia marketing opportunities for engaging consumers through their mobile devices.

Mobile marketers have extensively used text-based SMS messaging because it has broad reach and it is quick, simple and relatively inexpensive to deliver.

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These campaigns are often accompanied with hyperlinks to a mobile Web address to enhance user engagement with the brand and provide additional content beyond the 160-character limit.

However, marketers often ask themselves if there's enough meat in the SMS text to entice the user to click the link. And if an end user does not click, did the brand still get their message across?

A complementary service used by marketers is MMS, an extension of the SMS standard. It is a rich multimedia messaging technology, including options for audio, video, images and thousands of characters of text within a single message.

The growing use of peer-to-peer and peer-to-application picture messaging, especially for social networking and picture sharing, and marketers' increased interest in application-to-peer (A2P) MMS have been catalysts for carriers to upgrade their MMSC infrastructure and to apply more universal standards for bulk MMS delivery and reporting.

MMS platform providers have correspondingly added advanced features for the deployment of A2P MMS technology in the marketing space, improving the creative presentation and interactivity of the service, including:

• Multiple slides of content or marketing "events" in a single MMS message
• MMS delivery receipts
• MMS device discovery and content adaptation of images, audio and video
• MMS hyperlink adaptation, shortened and click-through instructions based on device
• Multiple click-to-call links in a single MMS message
• Multiple click-to-web links in a single MMS message
• Optional terms and conditions slide, with text or spoken audio
• Incoming MMS keyword matching
• MMS bar code and NFC (Near Field Communication) object delivery
• DRM technology to manage the right to share and forward content

MMS is not a stand-alone technology but actually complementary to SMS.

Marketers will employ SMS call-to-action marketing in broadcast, print and online, which then triggers an MMS message response with content delivery.

On the flip side, they may ask end users to submit pictures to their short code using MMS and then respond with an SMS or MMS.

Importantly, content and messages sent via MMS are delivered to and opened within the recipient's inbox in the same familiar way as SMS.

There is no software to download or application to launch. And end users can reply to an MMS with an SMS, and vice-versa, on the same short code.

End users usually now have SMS and MMS bundled together in their messaging plans.

However, A2P MMS, at least for now, is more expensive than SMS delivery for marketers. Whether the higher cost is justified depends primarily on the marketer's objective and its use of the benefits of MMS.

Marketers currently leveraging an SMS platform provider's infrastructure will most likely -- depending on the aggregator -- be able to use their existing SMS short code for MMS delivery as well.

While some SMS platform providers may be developing their own MMS technology, others are integrating with established MMS platform providers to extend their own platform and capabilities.

The choice of MMS platforms is far more difficult than for SMS.

The quality of SMS text is indistinguishable between handsets. so platform providers compete mainly on reliability, throughput and price.

However, MMS capabilities will vary greatly between each provider, based also on message quality, message format, delivery latency, handset support and carrier reach.

MMS will continue to complement SMS and the mobile Internet so content providers, brands, retailers and agencies can create and deliver rich, interactive content and messaging to the largest possible audience.

More importantly, MMS is likely to stand apart as a messaging technology offering marketers rich media opportunities, the immediacy of a user's inbox, interactivity, the viral component of content sharing and an audience already familiar with and using messaging.

Richard Eicher is founder CEO of Skycore LLC, the Boston-based developer of Cellyspace.com. Reach him at .

Related content: Columns, MMS, SMS, Skycore, Rich Eicher, mobile marketing, mobile

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Comments on "Advances in MMS add interactive tools for mobile marketing"

  1. Rich Eicher says:

    January 26, 2009 at 5:27pm

    Rob and JT make some good points. Thank you.

    Rob/iPhone: You are right to point out that the iPhone currently does not have MMS functionality. Until it does, a marketer should utilize an MMS platform provider capable of auto-detecting an iphone and delivering the MMS instead as an SMS with a WAP link.

    Rob/MMS Cost: Yes, cost is certainly a major consideration. Fortunately most US carriers are now combining both SMS and MMS in their messaging plans. However, as you rightly point out, the “perceived" cost may higher until more people become familiar with bundled plans. Once the "perceived cost" of MMS to the end user is the same as SMS, the MMS will have a much higher "perceived value". Something to consider....

    JT/Limitations: Web-to-mobile will certainly be widely used for cross platform interaction. MMS file size limitations are not a major issue anymore for marketers. Considering a mobile devices resolution and the audience's attention span, 200Kb-300Kb per MMS is plenty of room for both content and a marketing message (or two). In addition this file size limit is continually increased every year as new phones are launched with larger mega-pixel cameras and memory cards.
  2. JT Klepp says:

    January 13, 2009 at 6:38pm

    Although MMS is certainly a step up in allowing for more media rich campaigns, it still falls short in many areas. MMS has severe limitations on file sizes, and is inherently not a good solution for cross platform interaction (i.e. web to mobile).
  3. Rob Chapman says:

    January 13, 2009 at 6:44am

    With the benefits of MMS adoption seemingly evident for all stakeholders, I find it interesting that the flagship device, the iPhone still does not have full MMS functionability?

    For MMS to become what the article suggests, firstly the iPhone is going to have to come to the party and free up its MMS functions. Secondly, the price charged for an MMS is going to have to come down to reasonable levels; currently the major barrier to end users is the perceived high price.

    Good luck to MMS marketers; Im very excited about its future!

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