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OpenMarket launches SMS advertising service for content providers

Aggregator and mobile transaction hub OpenMarket Inc. has launched an SMS advertising service that enables content providers to tap into advertising networks and monetize the content that they deliver to consumers.

The OpenMarket SMS Advertising service lets text-message content providers, including those that offer weather, jokes, horoscopes and sports alerts, to insert targeted ads into Web and text-based messages that are relayed to the consumer. Consumers can respond to an ad by clicking on a Web URL?click-to-Web?or by clicking a phone number to call?click-to-call.

?This new SMS advertising service is targeting existing clients with standard-rate products that have additional monetization opportunities,? said Jay Emmet, general manager of OpenMarket, Seattle.

?For example, many consumers subscribe to a big sports network to get baseball team updates, but that content only uses 30-40 character out of the 160 that are available, which leaves a lot of whitespace," he said.

?Content providers realize they can monetize this whitespace better by offering ads related to the content of the SMS alerts and let brands target the demographic being addressed.? 

Continuing the same sporting analogy, at the end of the baseball alert, there could be an ad from Ticketmaster or StubHub encouraging that fan to buy tickets to see their favorite team. The message could carry a link to a phone number or a Web address - an ad letting consumers click to respond to the call-to-action.

A subsidiary of Amdocs, OpenMarket provides messaging, payments and emerging services to meet mobile business needs, including marketing and CRM, by leveraging the off-portal mobile channel.

SMS campaigns provide a way for advertisers to closely target their product messaging and for content providers to generate additional value from their product offer, according to OpenMarket.

?This is beneficial to all members of the ecosystem, because they get to monetize these messages, and it is beneficial to consumers, because they get free SMS alerts,? Mr. Emmet said. ?The ad doesn?t intrude, it?s a standalone message, and consumers have to accept the fact that there?s an ad at the end to get the free content they want, just like magazines and TV are ad-supported.

?We have seen chatter from our competitors in this space, and we?re not launching a beta trial or a test, this is a fully baked product launch,? he said. ?This is a core product for us, and it is viewed as such within our product catalog.

?Typically these are clients that have large standard-rate messaging usage such as a TV show that offers you the chance to interact with the show and get content related to it, or weather alerts, horoscopes, sports networks, anyone who has a recurring informational service and has whitespace they can monetize?it really runs the gamut.?

Opening markets
According to Forrester Research, the market size for SMS advertising nationwide is expected to grow from $718 million this year to $2.2 billion in 2010.

OpenMarket has relationships with multiple mobile ad networks, which its customers can leverage to fill their inventory.

The OpenMarket SMS Advertising service offers content providers the choice of various ad networks via the aggregator?s hub, letting them find the best rates.

In addition, OpenMarket has existing relationships with carriers, so content providers do not have to navigate carrier restrictions and industry guidelines surrounding mobile ads.

?We launched this service help our existing clients monetize their existing SMS traffic and also attract new clients whose current aggregator doesn?t offer the same level of service,? Mr. Emmet said. ?While I would characterize this model as still in the very early days, now publishers who didn?t have a channel open to them, that channel?s opening.

?It used to be that there just wasn?t enough inventory, and if you?re a Disney or a Fox or a Walmart, you need inventory,? he said. ?Pick a major retailer, they?re all working on loyalty programs.

?Borders sends out a monthly coupon via text, and they?re looking for additional monetization opportunities and ways to interact with their customer base using mobile channels, and SMS alerts is one of them.?