SMS is still a winner: Why Eurovision is wrong to ignore the joy of text

On Saturday night, Informa’s Camille Mendler tweeted her frustration that UK viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest could not enter their votes by text. In questioning the decision, she referred to SMS as Europe’s ‘most ubiquitous and cheap communications method’.

Research from Camille’s parent company, Informa, has today proved unequivocally that this assertion was correct. According to a write-up from Mobile Marketing Watch, SMS remains far more popular than newer messaging apps such as WhatsApp or BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

The article expressly says that “there will not be a uniform decline in mobile operators’ SMS traffic” as a result of ‘over-the-top’ services such as WhatsApp, which will no doubt be music to the ears of mobile marketers. Having spent many years perfecting SMS as a marketing medium, the prospect of app-based messaging having usurped texts as consumers’ primary means of mobile communication could certainly have caused headaches for those of us in the mobile marketing industry.

Our new SmartMessage platform is a good example of the new ways marketers are harnessing the reach of SMS to target more consumers. As it is available for every handset in every country, marketers can target the wide user base which SMS offers, using the system’s unique customer experience (pop-up messages with one-click interactions) to improve response rates. The levels of interaction which products like this are able to generate would not be possible on ‘over-the-top’ services, showing the ongoing value of SMS to marketers.

However, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. The very fact that Informa is researching the effect that WhatsApp, BBM and the like could have on SMS revenues is proof that these technologies are shaking up the industry. As marketers it is our responsibility to ensure that we are abreast of these changes and adapting to them. Any medium which is attracting hundreds of millions of users is one which deserves serious attention, and no doubt in the years ahead the best in our industry will devise ways to harness the potential of these apps.

For the meantime, however, long live SMS and woe betide those organisations (such as Eurovision) which may choose to ignore its extraordinary reach. My thoughts on the matter are simple: ‘nul points’.

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