The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Adblockers are Costing Google Billions

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According to a recent report from anti-adblock tech firm PageFair, Google lost $6.6 billion in global revenue to ad blockers in 2014. The rise of ad blocking is becoming quite problematic for digital media companies, with Google so far taking the brunt of it.  

The $6.6 billion accounts for 10 percent of Google’s total revenue for last year. PageFair used Google's own revenue numbers as well as market data from research companies eMarketer and comScore to predict Google's total potential ad revenues from YouTube, search, AdSense, and DoubleClick. AdSense and DoubleClick are Google’s display advertising properties.  

"This is a relatively small sum for a global corporation with revenues of nearly $60 billion, while being a huge cash injection for a fast-growing adblocking startup in Cologne,” PageFair wrote in a blog post. “It is not credible that these funds are simply being spent on the administration of the acceptable ads program. Instead, they are presumably being reinvested in the future development of adblocking ... Although paying Adblock Plus may recover some short-term search engine revenue, it also tightens the adblocking stranglehold on the remainder of Google’s revenue." 

Adblock Plus is one of the most popular ad blockers of the moment, and the company PageFair referred to regarding its $6.6 billion figure for Google. The adblocker provides internet companies with the chance for their ads to be whitelisted should they meet an "acceptable ads" policy. Acceptable ads include what ad blockers consider non-intrusive, such as sponsored search links. Yet according to The Financial Times, bigger digital advertising companies such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Taboola must pay Adblock Plus substantial fees — up to 30 percent of additional ad revenues if their ads weren’t blocked. 

Google’s lost revenue would have been much higher if not for the digital juggernaut’s whitelisting deal with Adblock Plus, which excluded search ads from the ad blocker’s filter. Google reportedly paid Adblock Plus $25 million to exclude search ads, but subsequently “saved” $3.5 billion in 2014.

Doubleclick and AdSense got “the worst of it,” and together lost Google $2.1 billion globally in 2014. YouTube, in comparison, lost $675 million in 2014 due to pre-roll ad blocking.

“The actual global adblocking rate is probably about five per cent, while the percentage of adblocked dollars is much higher,” Pagefair CEO and co-founder Sean Blanchfield told Mobile Marketing. “There is very low adblocking among many non-western countries, where access is primarily mobile, but where the ad spend is lower.”

Neither Google nor Adblock Plus have commented on the PageFair report at this time.

Email as a Mobile Marketing Strategy


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Despite growing approval and increased attention paid to mobile marketing, some critics have missed the mark when it comes to email in the new mobile world.

Since the 1960s, email has been a standard across various channels as technology has changed and improved. Email is constantly sited for its powerful conversion rates, engagement and ROI. In a recent marketing census, eConsultancy concluded that revenue generated from email marketing campaigns has proportionally increased by 28% in 2014, and was ranked first with regards to ROI. Sixty-eight percent of the companies utilizing email to correspond with customers rated the method ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. 

Lines between mobile marketing and email have been drawn exclusively to separate the two. The problem is, separation doesn’t accurately represent what’s being played out among user behavior. In fact, the separation of the two isn’t just impossible; it’s a huge opportunity.

An incredible 70% of emails are now opened via mobile—an incredible shift in user behavior towards the mobile landscape. The roll of email has become so intrinsic in the daily lives of users that it’s inescapable. Gmail and Yahoo! reported almost 70% of every email opened using their services is done using a smartphone or tablet; what’s more, 61% of mobile users read at least some of their emails via mobile. The questions dividing the mobile and desktop arenas are justified, but email doesn’t seem to have the same limitations.

It’s a safe bet that some other form of mobile correspondence won’t replace email; so learning to utilize email to reach the user on-the-go becomes the better objective. Knowing how to tailor an email to meet the specific needs of a mobile user is the key to devising a strong email-friendly mobile marketing strategy.

First, adjusting the content to be mobile responsive is imperative. The call-to-action should be plain, clear and direct, in addition to being well placed and easily tapable. This means larger buttons, clear font and limited scrolling. 

In addition to formatting the message for a smaller screen and mobile ease, mobile consciousness should be addressed. Users are in a different state of mind when using mobile, and that’s something that can be harnessed and used to a marketer’s advantage.

While email enjoys the intimate space of an inbox, mobile email offers a far more personal experience in the palm of a user’s hand. Where is the user going? What time of day is it? By considering the mobile moments in the day, and when those moments relate to the right products and services, marketers can do a better job of getting inside a user’s head spaces and further anticipating their needs.

So for the naysayers out there who assumed email was on its way out: guess again. 

How SMS can Save Summer

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As the weather starts to heat up, annual summer vacations enjoy a revival. Airplane travel has become a popular and affordable way to travel these days, yet it has taken forever for the air travel industry to catch up with the mobile revolution. In fact, while travel and hospitality seem to lead innovation regarding user experience depicted through mobile, air transportation has done little in the way of making flights more mobile friendly.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are several ways to improve a summer traveler’s experiences with the help of mobile. Here’s a list of improvements every vacation could benefit from.

 

Mobile Ticket Purchase

According to Text Marketer, one in five international vacations were booked via mobile device. Travelers love great deals, so when there’s an extra passenger seat available at a discount, communicating those savings to loyal customers can be a great benefit. Frost and Sullivan report that consumers are 98% more likely to respond to a SMS message compared to regular emails. Using mobile to showcase great deals is a win-win situation.

 

Mobile Check-in 

One of the most common complaints about air travel is a long check-in line. Instead of numerous lines for check-in, offering a mobile responsive check-in service provide allow passengers ease of mind while they make their way through security and to their final boarding gate. It’s one less step that could make a huge impact on a customer’s flying experience.

 

Retail Opportunities

When travelers are stuck with a long layover or change in flight schedule, nothing beats duty-free shopping. Retail locations in airports have become incredibly lucrative for a variety of vendors. SMS marketing coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than mail or newspaper ads. Using beacon technology to offer special discounts or special offers is a great way to use mobile effectively.

 

In Flight Upgrades

Some aircrafts currently offer WiFi access for a small fee, but many planes have yet to be fully upgraded. While placing phone calls or texting may be unsafe, even in the future, it would seem that offering Wi-Fi access during all flights could make a customer’s flight much more productive and enjoyable.

 

Mobile Accommodations

In addition to improving mobile for air travel, hotel accommodations are jumping on the wagon. Hilton hotels recently announced a smartphone check-in service to debut sometime in 2016. The app will allow guests to search and purchase a room via mobile. The mobile device also acts as a room key and can quickly connect with hotel staff or services via text message.

There are several ways to save summer with unique mobile initiatives that will ultimately benefit both the traveler and companies alike. 

 

6 of the Best Summer Marketing Campaigns

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Some summer marketing campaigns are truly awesome, and remain in consumer minds for many seasons. If agonizing about your summer marketing campaign or how you can possibly craft one consumers will love, throw something on the grill and check out six of the very best summer marketing campaigns (possibly) ever: 

 

Share a Coke Campaign

The Share a Coke campaign by Coca-Cola was hugely successful, and based on the idea that people looovve their names on things. The company put names on their cans and bottles, such as those that read “Share a Coke With Alyx.” As seen by the spelling of “Alyx,” Coca-Cola went a step further and make it possible for those with unusually-spelled or unique names to personalize their own bottles. They named their campaign after their call to action, which is quite brilliant, and even came up with ways to ensure sharing. For example, the soda brand had vending machines at the Minnesota State Fair where you could personalize a can for free.

 

Pacifico’s “Well-Traveled Beer” Campaign

In June of 2011 brewing company Pacifico did a road trip from Mexico to the U.S. and stopped in five cities along the way. They brought kegs to surfer get-togethers, bonfire parties, etc. and documented their journey via photos, videos, and status updates. Brand engagement and excitement resulted.

 

Pixar and Disney’s Monsters University Campaign 

In preparation for the 2012 summer release of Monsters University, Disney and Pixar created a Monsters University website featuring information on monster sports teams, School of Scaring tours, famous alumni, news and events, etc. It looked like a real university website and created plenty of movie buzz.

 

Atlantic City Alliance ‘Do AC’ Campaign

In April of last year, the Atlantic City Alliance dealt with a casino closings and a drop in tourism by launching the $20 million ‘Do AC’ campaign. Entitled ‘Do Anything. Do Everything. Do AC.,’ the campaign was created to expand on the beach city’s image and take it from gaming destination to family-friendly vacation destination. Ads were crafted for television, print, billboard, and digital advertising. 

A bold rebranding move, it nevertheless worked, and capitalized on the idea that people want to be “seen” in AC enjoying all of its many attractions, not just casinos. 

 

IKEA’s Books on the Beach Campaign 

IKEA celebrated Billy Bookshelf’s 30th birthday in 2013 by erecting several of their Billy bookshelves (filled with books) on Bondi Beach in Australia. Beach-goers could take a book in exchange for donating to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation. The campaign therefore promoted IKEA as a compassionate brand while simultaneously advertising the Billy.

 

Starbucks Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long Campaign

In 2014 Starbucks launched their Frappuccino Fun All Summer Long campaign, an SMS and MMS campaign. The coffee bigwig posted a message to its Facebook page encouraging consumers to text the keyword STRAW to 22122 with an image of a Frappuccino. Consumers had to draw eyes on their frappucino, and the copy read “What has a green straw and wishes it had thumbs? This guy.”

 

 

 

6 Mobile Marketing Myths

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Has your business still not taken a ride on the mobile marketing train? Considering Americans spend about two hours per day on their mobile devices, and one in seven people worldwide own such devices as of 2013, you may want to buy your proverbial train ticket. One out of every four mobile searches is conducted using a mobile device, and some 57 percent of users refuse to recommend companies without mobile-friendly site.  

If still not convinced, check out six mobile marketing myths to sway your vote: 

 

Myth #1: Mobile Marketing is Currently Enjoying Its 15 Minutes of Fame

Think the mobile marketing craze will be over soon? Think again. To quote Internet marketing expert Matt Bacak, “You’re simply an idiot if you think mobile marketing is not here to stay.” A bit harsh, but very true. 

 

Myth #2: Mobile Marketing is Crazy Expensive 

Many, many tools are now available to start a mobile marketing campaign without breaking the piggy bank. 

 

Myth #3: Optimizing Websites For Mobile Marketing Isn’t Necessary

Another popular myth surrounding mobile marketing is any normal business site is easy to read on a mobile device. This is rarely the case, and most users who find your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices are unlikely to visit the site again. 

 

Myth #4: Mobile Users Are the Same

A good number of businesses believe mobile users are limited to Millennials and Generation Y. Again, not true. According to media company Digiday, many mobile users--more than half--are 35 or older. Older generations are increasingly just as likely to use their mobile devices and bring them everywhere, so don’t dismiss them as old fogies who can barely operate a flip phone, let alone a smartphone. 

 

Myth #5: All That’s Required For Mobile Marketing is an App

While having a mobile app for your business is definitely a good thing, it’s merely one component of a larger mobile marketing strategy. A mobile-optimized website, QR codes, and texting messaging play sizable roles as well, and put together offer many opportunities for customer interaction and loyalty building. 

 

Myth #6: Mobile Marketing Doesn’t Apply to Small Businesses

Hardly. Mobile marketing offers a more personalized, more one-on-one experience, something the small business specializes in. It therefore makes perfect sense to capitalize on mobile marketing as a new way of talking to customers and ensuring their loyalty. 

Mobile marketing isn’t going anywhere, and businesses who take advantages of its many benefits are the ones sure to thrive. 

 

Millennials Prefer Apps to Ads

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Mobile marketing provides a business with the ability to reach customers and potential customers anywhere at any time. And while this is a great, great concept, other businesses are attempting the exact same thing. It therefore follows that trying to stand out from competitors gets tricky.

Those interested in reaching millennials need to realize that the key to mobile marketing isn’t about ads, no matter how snazzy they may be. It’s about apps. 

 

Why Millennials Matter 

Wondering why millennials matter in the first place? According to a study by Oracle, 85 percent of people ages 18 to 34 fit the “Millennial” label, and currently own a smartphone. This sizable chunk of the population bought a whole lot of smartphones in the past year, rising 23 percent in 2014 from the previous year. This indicates that millennials are not only using smartphones, but that interest in the devices is increasing. 

 

Their Mobile Activity

So what do millennials use their smartphones for? A wide range of things, according to Oracle. This includes paying bills, using social media, researching local businesses, and more. Millennials use their apps for the majority of these activities--for example, the social media juggernaut Instagram is an app. Oracle notes the top three reported uses regarding apps are 1) uploading media content (75 percent), 2) product purchasing (74 percent), and transferring funds to a friend (61 percent). 

It was also reported that across all usage options, millennials went for smartphones over tablets two to one. 

 

Using Apps Effectively 

The main proverbial road block regarding apps and the brands that utilize them is the near-constant maintenance and development. While not exactly cheap, it’s still very possible to utilize apps and see a return on investment. Check it out: 

  • Performance Over Features: Go for performance instead of features, as poor performance and speed are the main reasons millennials eskew apps. 
  • Account/Money Management: If possible, provide user accounts and or money management through your app. Millennials are huge fans of using apps to make purchases and deal with billing. 
  • Sharing is Caring: Share deals, discounts, event information, and other fun stuff on your apps, but don’t go overboard. While millennials enjoy receiving regular app updates, they don’t enjoy being inundated. Think of how often websites and social media channels provide updates and ensure you don’t exceed them. 

Wrap-Up

If your brand isn’t as hip in the app department as you’d like, don’t despair. Find ways of utilizing existing apps to your mobile marketing advantage, or try partnering with other companies and their subsequent apps to improve your audience’s experience. 

 

 

SMS is Preferable to Messaging Apps, Says Survey

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Sure, numerous messaging apps have cropped up in recent years, with the Facebook Messaging app being the most popular. Yet despite the rise in messaging apps, many prefer the classic text message option. According to a new survey conducted by RingCentral, most prefer SMS to messaging apps, and 80 percent of the 509 people surveyed said they used texting for business. RingCentral is a cloud-based communications system for SMBs with “desktop and mobile apps, SMS capabilities and a variety of additional features.” 

Most survey participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. Some 48 percent of respondents have one or two messaging apps on their phones, with 30 percent having three or four. This isn’t exactly shocking, as most don’t want their phones cluttered with a bunch of messaging apps they don’t use. Several (41 percent) used two messaging apps regularly, though 36 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t feel overwhelmed by using more than one method for checking their messages every day.  

As far as the actual messaging apps go, Facebook is the favorite, followed by WhatsApp and Snapchat.  

The survey also looked at how many texts participants sent and received per day, how long they go without responding to a text, and why they preferred text messages to IM. Most said they send and receive between one and 20 messages every day, respond to messages two to 11 minutes after receiving them, and prefer traditional texting because it’s the simpler, easier, faster option. About 72 percent of participants clearly favored texting. 

Arguably more direct, traditional texting is much less difficult to ignore or miss than messaging apps. And while 80 percent of survey participants said they used texting for business, email is still widely considered the more professional option. Conducting business over IM is perceived as too casual and personal.  

“This employee feedback in our survey suggests the dire needs for companies to adopt the right business communication tools, policies and procedures to empower texting, calling, messaging, and online meetings—through more efficient communication platforms—at work,” RingCentral’s Carolyn Shmunis wrote on the company blog. “As new communication preferences emerge, employees and employers must devise a system that prevents communication overload, while enabling efficient communication both internally and externally. Preparing employees with the right tools to call, text or message one another should remain a top priority to help workplace productivity and efficiency.” 

Shmunis also noted that the survey takeaway is very clear: Texting may be the preferred option to IM, however it’s still important for businesses to “be better well-equipped to communicate with all modes of communication effectively.” 

 

iOS Bug Crashes Phones via Text Message

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An iOS bug in the Apple Messages app is causing big headaches for iPhone users. 

The bug makes it possible to easily crash iPhones by sending a string of Arabic characters. It was discovered by a few Reddit users, and once received causes the phone to immediately crash and reboot so long as the recipient is not looking at their message history. The attack is believed to be caused by a glitch in Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, which “renders Arabic text” and runs on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

“The implications of this, is that again, like other software flaws which have gained attention (Venom, Heartbleed), it involves bugs in older software routines which have been undetected until recently,” Cathal McDaid, head of data intelligence and analytics at AdaptiveMobile. McDaid said in an email to SCMagazine.com. “The difference here is that so far there has been no malicious use identified, other than a DoS [denial of service]. But this is in itself a serious result.” 

The text string causing the bug is super specific, making replicating the string by accident highly unlikely. Concerned iPhone users can disable notifications to protect their devices from crashing. Receiving notifications over the Apple Watch is also a way of sidestepping the bug. 

Some bug victims say they can no longer access their messages, while others are reporting that sending a photo to the contact through the Photos app allows them to access their message history. They can subsequently delete the conversation containing the very-bad text string, thus removing the crash source.  

McDaid remarked on his surprise concerning how many times the “bugged” message was sent.  

“We detected (and blocked) over a quarter of a million people in America attempted to send these messages, to other phones - in some cases they have sent hundreds or even thousands of messages,” he said, noting the majority of high-volume senders had “only attempted to send to a small set of receivers – although we have certainly seen some attempts to send to a much wider spread of recipients.”

The number of times the message was sent ties into its use as a prank. Many users have discussed their frustration on Twitter. This is not the first bug to cause such issues on Apple devices. 

So what does Apple have to say about it? 

“We are aware of an iMessage issue caused by a specific series of unicode characters and we will make a fix available in a software update,” a spokesman said. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

 

How Do Kids Use Mobile?

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As web-enabled mobile devices proliferate among the adult population, it’s not surprising that kids are getting their hands on their parents smartphones and tablets. The use of mobile technology among children of all ages has exploded over the past few years - even as overall screen media exposure had declined.

A 2013 study from Common Sense Media showed that 89% of American children had used a mobile device that year - up from 38% just two years prior. On average, children under the age of eight were using smartphones and tablets almost as much as tweens and teens, with 75% having access to a mobile device during 2013. Even babies are getting in on the mobile revolution, with 38% of under-twos having used a mobile device. 

Since the research two years ago, there have been no significant studies on children’s usage of mobile technology, but given the soaring rates of smartphone adoption in the United States, the number of kids using them is unlikely to have dropped. According to an Ericsson report from last year, the number of mobile devices per family is increasing, with 90% of U.S. households having three or more web-connected devices; almost half have five or more devices, and nearly 25% of households have seven or more.  

But there’s a twist. The Common Sense Media research indicates a drop-off in average screen time among youngsters. Television still accounts for about half of the two hours of average daily screen time for kids, with the rest being spent on DVDs, video games, computers and mobile devices. But that overall average screen time (1h55 minutes) is 21 minutes less than it was in 2011. 

Could that be an anomaly? Or are parents becoming more responsive to concerns about the perils of continuous exposure to screens? More research is needed to demonstrate that, but with investment in mobile marketing at an all time high, studies like this are never far away.

Should I Use an SMS Aggregator for Mobile Marketing?

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The whole idea behind sending SMS (short message service) messages is in the name--you’re sending a short message that you expect sent in a short amount of time. The right bulk SMS provider is therefore essential to ensure messages are sent in a timely fashion. However not all providers, or aggregators, are of the same quality. 

Understanding the difference between good and bad aggregators means understanding the history of SMS, grey routes included. Check it out: 

 

A Brief History Lesson

SMS technology came about in the 1980s as a method of sending messages to offline or otherwise unavailable mobile phones. Messages were (and still are) up to 160 characters in length, and use a ‘store and forward’ approach, meaning messages are stored and sent once a mobile link is established. SMS also uses a signaling channel in that it does not interfere with phone calls--sending and receiving messages is possible while on a call. 

Few realized how popular SMS would become when the first text message was sent in 1992. Mainly viewed as a way for professionals to page each other, it quickly became a easy way to communicate anywhere, anytime. SMS use “exploded” in 1999 when it became possible to text regardless of whether the receiver was in your network or not. Especially popular among teens and adults, texting also served as a less expensive communication option. 

Telecommunication companies set up international roaming networks as well so those traveling internationally could still send texts to loved ones at home. The subsequent adoption of SS7 (Signaling System #7) was a way to facilitate global P2P SMS.

Telco companies have never charged each other interconnect fees for sending P2P SMS across networks. When a person sends a message, the receiver usually replies, thus cancelling fees out. 

 

Aggregator Origins

Eventually assorted entrepreneurs found a way to send SMS messages to vast numbers of mobile phones through a computer. All that was required was a Global Title, which provided a network identity and allowed them to send traffic on SS7 roaming networks. 

This resulted in aggregators, or non-telco companies that allowed businesses to send bulk SMS. Such companies did not have individual customers, and created issues for telcos by sending huge numbers of SPAM messages. Other aggregators went for illegal grey routes. 

Grey routes were used to send messages to recipients in other countries without paying networks for message delivery. And while some aggregators don’t use grey routes, they do utilize least cost routing (LCR), which usually involves passing messages through several aggregators. It is not considered a reliable means of communication. 

 

Wrap-Up 

Grey routes not only interfere with legitimate SMS traffic, they also cost telecommunication companies millions of dollars in lost revenue every year. A grey route crackdown by telecos has resulted, with companies working with trusted aggregators only. 

So when debating whether an aggregator is right for your mobile marketing campaign, remember that old piece of advice: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Go for aggregators who have direct relationships with telcos--you may pay more, but the investment is very much worth it.