The SMS Marketing Blog

[ By Ez Texting ]

Yahoo Class Action Suit to Go Ahead

 

Shutterstock_301842728

Nobody likes going to jury duty, but being part of a class action lawsuit may not be so bad. That’s because “the class” or persons affected by illegal conduct stand to benefit from one or several persons’ efforts to sue on behalf of the group. 

According to court documents from the Northern District of Illinois, Easter Division, as many as 500,000 people stand to gain $1,500 for each unwanted text message received from Yahoo! Messenger, thanks to a 68-year-old woman named Rachel Johnson. 

And that’s no small chunk of change for Yahoo!, which may lose an estimated $750 million if the class action suit goes through. So far, the forecast doesn’t look good for the online messaging service. 

 

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

According to protections outlined in the TCPA, Yahoo! unlawfully sent Welcome Messages to the plaintiff after she received a personalized message to her cell phone through a feature called Mobile to SMS Messenger Service. This particular feature converts a Yahoo! user’s online text into a mobile message—the process is also called PC2SMS.

After Johnson received the first personalized message regarding a loan, a follow up message was received welcoming her to Yahoo! Massager. Johnson claims she never gave consent to Yahoo! to communicate with her via text, nor did she sign the company’s terms of service agreement. 

Yahoo! told Judge Manish Shah that the plaintiff had, at some point, signed up for one of Yahoo!’s smartphone apps or services, which would have satisfied the terms and conditions required under TCPA. This argument however was “a shot in the dark,” according to Judge Shah, who has ruled that the case may proceed. 

 

A Shot in the Dark 

Yahoo! definitely erred in this case—mostly because its primary argument assumed one piece of information: 68-year-old Johnson must, in fact, have downloaded a Yahoo! app or service to her phone prior to the incident. 

The plaintiff however, did not have a smartphone at the time, and instead had a flip phone incapable of downloading applications from the Internet. Looks like grandma’s resistance to new technology is finally paying off!

 

The Intermediary 

Concerns over what’s called an “intermediary” were raised in this case and may set some unique precedence for similar lawsuits in the future. 

According to court documents, Johnson never signed any terms and conditions with Yahoo!; she did however fill out an online application for a personal loan at CashCall.com. Within the promissory notes of the loan application, Johnson consented to receive phone calls and text messages from an automatic dialing system. Yahoo! argued that the first personalized message granted prior express consent—in this case, CashCall.com is the intermediary. 

According to previous cases, intermediary consent has two requirements: 1) consent given by the recipient to an intermediary, and 2) consent conveyed by the intermediary to the sender. Yahoo! was unable to satisfy these requirements, and the intermediary argument fell short in this case. 

But that doesn’t mean we won’t see more of this shady, backdoor communication. In fact, using this intermediary argument to defend spam and unsolicited text messages could be a slippery slope that sidesteps most of the TCPA entirely. 

Johnson and her class of some 500,000 people are on their way to proving a huge point in the mobile marketing industry; but the industry moves fast and will likely use this court example to ensure the back door stays open. 

 

The Apple Watch Isn't Going Anywhere

 

280796318

The Apple Watch was one of the most profitable gadgets sold throughout this year’s holiday season. According to one report, an estimated 6 million units will be sold by year’s end, making the Apple Watch the most popular wearable on the market.

While some may scoff at the idea of wearable technology, it’s clear that a large number of consumers favor the advancement of flashy phone accessories despite high price tags and minor hiccups from first-generation models. For those on the fence about whether or not these time-keeping wearables are just another fad, the forecast in 2016 looks bright.  

 

What the Numbers Reveal

The wearable market is likely to be dominated by the Apple Watch until 2019—giving the wrist device a wide birth for improvement, as well as more time to grow app development and diversity. According to a report by International Data Corporation (IDC), this year alone Apple sold 13 million watches for a little over 60 percent market share. If these trends continue, by 2019 the total number of units sold will reach almost 50 million.

Edging out some of Apple’s profits will be Android Wear, which sold a modest 3.2 million units this year. However, by 2019, Android will have acquired almost a 40 percent market share—impressive, but certainly a distant second to Apple. 

The numbers strongly suggest the Apple Watch and other wearable devices are headed for greener pastures, but the utility of these devices is still far from necessary in 2016. Most people won’t be able to afford the phone accessory simply because it’s still too expensive and requires newer (more expensive) versions of the iPhone. The next iteration of watches will likely not be much cheaper. Additionally, most people that have an Apple Watch are still using their iPhones just as much as they were before, which, at its core is what wearable tech is all about. 

On the positive side, Apple Watch is listening to consumers and making improvements. It also features some of the most sophisticated health software available. But unless you’re trying to get in shape, keep time, or occasionally respond to a text while driving, few people will benefit in an extraordinary way.

 

So what does all this mean? 

In some ways, the Apple Watch and other wearables are behaving just like a trend first starting out—most people ignore it until it goes away (3D-TVs) or until they simply can’t live without it (cell phones). 

The questioning remaining is whether the Apple Watch will take on enough utility to prove valuable in addition to a cell phone. Right now, the answer is no. But given the nature of the smartphone industry, it’s very possible that developers will come up with new and inventive ways of using technology to solve all kinds of unique problems. 

Smartphones Helping Us Cut 180 Million Tonnes of Carbon Emissions

 

229183180

Mobile technology is helping us drastically reduce our C02 emissions, according to a new study from the Carbon Trust. The research, jointly funded by international telephony companies and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), claims 180 million tonnes of emissions are saved annually - five times greater than emissions caused by the operations of mobile networks and mobile tech developers.

The study examined 60 carbon-saving mechanisms in 10 different categories, and evaluated a variety of uses for mobile technology, including uses for machine-to-machine and Internet of Things applications.

In an impressive, wide-ranging report, smartphones are shown to have made significant savings in areas like building management, route planning and employee carbon footprints, as an increasing number of workers conduct the majority of their business from home. 

Furthermore, the research highlights a number of areas for future emissions reductions. In a  survey of 4,000 smartphone users from the USA, UK, Spain, Mexico and South Korea, more than half the respondents said they would be willing to reduce their emissions by using mobile technology to recycle more products and encourage insurers to lower premiums in return for more ecologically sound driving habits. Nearly half said they would be more likely to use public transport if they had an app to tell them when the next bus or train would arrive. 

But it’s the emissions savings already being made on a daily basis that is most encouraging. For example, 84% of smartphone users who drive a car regularly use satnav and other GPS apps to reduce congestion and generally plan and execute their trips in a more eco-efficient way; 40% would consider using a self-driving vehicle in the future. Nearly half of respondents said they purchased digital books and newspapers, rather than the more environmentally-costly print versions. 

Other carbon-cutting lifestyle changes that a majority of respondents said they would be willing to make include mobile apps that control home heating and cooling (68%) and mobile-accessed public services (63%). Around half said they would cease using cash and credit/debit cards if they could pay for goods with their smartphone, and 63% said they would consult with doctors remotely for non-urgent issues. 

The list of eco-efficient applications goes on. But what’s even more exciting is the potential for developing economies to completely bypass high-carbon infrastructures by using mobile technology. For a world facing critical climate change, that would be the most sustainable move we can make.

Nintendo Launches First Mobile Game

 

274471445

Nintendo fans can finally celebrate their beloved gaming system on their handsets. In March of next year, Nintendo will launch its first-ever mobile app, Miitomo, a communication focused game interface with customizable personal avatars.

Earlier this year, Nintendo announced its partnership with DeNA, a fellow Japanese company focused on mobile apps and development. Together, the duo is committed to bringing Nintendo’s familiar game style to the handsets of millions of users around the world, as well as launching a new online gaming community. 

In addition to its social focus, Miitomo will also focus on entertainment and include internal mini games and other gasification features. There are even discussions about linking the game to users’ Facebook friend lists so that players can communicate with people already in their social spaces. 

Currently, the only revenue potential built into the free-to-play game is clothing users will be able to purchase for their avatar. 

Despite obvious links to the gaming community, Nintendo hasn’t been on the forefront of handset gaming. The partnership with DeNA has been something Nintendo avoided speaking about as recently as January 2014. 

According to Nintendo’s rep at the time, “Nintendo’s intention is not to make Nintendo software available on smart devices.”

Despite Nintendo’s early resistance, the company has made a few things about the mobile developments perfectly clear. For one, DeNA and Nintendo will only be working on original games specifically optimized for the smartphone experience—that means you’re not going to see Mario or Luigi on your handset anytime soon. 

What’s more, all the existing Nintendo IP will be eligible for development by the new license. So, even though Nintendo says no Mario Cart for the iPhone 6S, it’s possible all of that might change sometime in the future. 

 

What the Future Holds

In some ways, it feels like Nintendo is testing the waters before it dives straight into the mobile game world. Depending on how things go with Miitomo, the company may gain some much-needed confidence.

However, all of this raises interesting questions about the success of one gaming platform and its potential success crossing over into new territory. Can Nintendo make a successful game for handsets? Or will it regret the discussion to cross over if Miitomo doesn’t play out to plan?

Nintendo fans should be open-minded come March of next year. They may not get exactly what they’re expecting, but it could be something better.

The App That's Keeping Tour Operators in Touch with Tourists

 

329440619

There’s a new app designed to keep tour operators in contact with tourists while on their way to local attractions. Recently launched in New Zealand, the app was developed by Auckland-based company Skoot in a joint effort with JUCY, Tourism Radio and Putti, a Spark Ventures company. The app allows businesses to cater to tourists planning the next leg of their vacations. 

 

A Plethora of Functions

Skoot is available as a smartphone app that may be mounted to a rental vehicle. It offers a variety of functions, including onboard GPS navigation, safety messages, information on local activities, WiFi hotspot, and accommodation options in real time. The app also allows tourists to make purchases through stored credit cards on their smartphones. 

Skoot CEO Hayden Braddock notes the app is a built-in audio tour guide that recognizes user location and automatically provides information on over 1,600 local tourist attractions.

“Throughout their journey, Skoot is designed to keep tourists engaged with both local information and relevant promotions - served by audio and digital display feeds,” says Braddock. “Each business on Skoot will effectively have control over their own application which is able to be accessed and used within the Skoot application or on its own in the APP Store. The retailer gets the benefit of being able to create and manage their own app and content in real time, update deals, products, info, branding etc. Tourists will only have to download the one app when they travel around.”

Braddock added that he and other company members believe this is the first time something like this has been done. He also noted that the app will be linked to its nationwide 4G network that allows up to five other devices to use the WiFi hotspot when installed in a rental vehicle. 

 

Future Uses and Safety Promotion

Future incarnations of the app will include a click-to-call function using VoIP. The feature makes it possible for tourists to call and book local attractions for free.

“Tourists are also able to redeem digital vouchers which appear as they close in on local attractions and purchase their tickets at discounted rates using a preloaded credit card,” says Braddock.

The app promotes road safety by helping tourists navigate New Zealand roads and deal with assorted conditions as they arise. Drivers will be alerted to safety hazards such as high crash areas and one-way bridges, as well as when to stay left or slow down. 

Braddock commented that the app will provide more opportunities for the company’s business partners in the future, such as payment methods that encourage tourists to purchase promotional tickets to events and attractions and subsequently expedite their entry. Businesses will also be able to tailor their offerings based on the season, proximity, and other factors. 

Whether the app will be usable in other countries is unknown at this time, however its benefits make the possibility very real. 

Does Ending a Text with a Period Make You Seem Cold-hearted?

 

73109542

Conveying and registering a wide range of subtle emotions in face-to-face conversations is instinctive. A curl of the lip here, widened eyes there. Facial movements are just so expressive, and our ability to process them so sophisticated, that written communication is fraught with problems caused by their omission. 

Computer-mediated Communication (CMC) has given us plenty of answers to this problem, from emojis and emoticons to gifs and selfies (not to mention Facetime and Skype, which brings us back to picking up on real time facial tics), but one question still plagues texters: if you finish a message with a full stop, does it suggest a degree of callousness to the reader? 

 

Science says yes.

 

A new study led by New York’s Binghamton University has found that SMS messages ending with a period are perceived as less sincere. As part of a paper titled ‘Texting Insincerely: the Role of the Period in Text Messaging,’ researchers presented a group of 126 undergraduates with a series of 16 conversations framed in two different ways: as handwritten notes or as text messages. A typical exchange began with an invitation (“Dave gave me his extra tickets. Wanna come?”) which was followed by a variety of one-word responses (“Okay” and “Sure” etc) each one with or without a period. The results showed that, when the reply is sent via SMS and concluded with a period, subjects rate the response as less sincere than when no punctuation is used. No such effect was reported in the handwritten note samples. 

To slavish devotees of proper grammar, this may come as a surprise. After all, finishing a statement with a period is what was drummed into us at school. It’s the correct way to write english, isn’t it? 

According to the research team, the lack of social cues present in text message communication has imbued punctuation and other keyboard characters with fresh meaning. For a generation of texters, periods convey brusqueness, a sense of finality that seems to ask to be left alone. Without the full stop, the conversation is left open ended, inviting the recipient to continue the dialogue. 

We're not sure how we feel about the period-less sentence, even in a text message. But if you want to indicate an open-ending to your SMS messages and invite further discussion, it's three times quicker than an ellipsis...

What Will Happen to Mobile in 2016?

 

274471445


What’s to become of the mobile market in 2016? Said market certainly isn’t going anywhere, and plenty of innovations and changes are expected. Overcoming various hurdles is also in the mix, and with that in mind, check out a few mobile predictions for the New Year: 

 

Messaging App Marketing

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are on their way to having 1 billion active users monthly. More services and marketing opportunities will be added to both messenger services in 2016, giving marketers the chance to further break from traditional advertising and come up with unique options. 

 

More Mobile Payments

Paying for, well, anything through smartphones is something that will likely continue in 2016. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and similar mobile payment possibilities are set to become standard smartphone features, however undoing years of paying with cash, debit cards, and credit cards as opposed to swiping a smartphone takes diligence. Mobile wallet incentives such as coupons, rewards and loyalty perks, and similar discounts will therefore be required if this form of payment is to really take off. 

 

Increased Data Release

Consumers are predicted to allow more personal data release in 2016, though whether they’ll do it willingly is up for debate. The “convenience and value” of the connected world is something consumers like a lot, so the release of more personal data to publishers and marketers is a distinct possibility. 

 

On-Demand Delivery and Small Businesses

Small businesses will get in on the on-demand delivery action in 2016, something that’s mainly been reserved for corporations and other big businesses. Food ordering, package delivery, and similar easy-to-use services are great for small businesses, and something more of them will utilize in the New Year. 

 

Facebook=Entirely Mobile

The days of checking out Facebook feeds through laptops are increasingly coming to an end, with the social media juggernaut set to become “entirely mobile.” In Q3 2015, 78 percent of Facebook’s $4.3 billion in ad revenue worldwide was due to mobile, and many of the site’s users log in through their phones anyway.

 

Stronger Cybersecurity 

The creation of more cloud-based services and more consumers relying on their phones to purchase goods and services means strong cybersecurity is a must. Small businesses should take note of cybersecurity options, as more cyber attacks are predicted for small businesses in 2016. 

 

Battle For “Mobile Moments”

In a blog for Forrester.com, analyst Thomas Husson called mobile moments the next “battleground” among marketers. 

“Mobile moments – a time when consumers picks up their mobile devices to get what they want in that moment of need – are the next battleground where to win, serve, and retain customers,” he writes. “Mobile experiences are too static today and leverage too little consumer context. As customer expectations of convenience escalate in 2016, the pressure will be on firms to tap new technologies to serve customers in context where they already are – not where brands find it convenient to serve them. Firms must look to use context both to assemble and deliver experiences dynamically on their own and third party platforms.

“In particular, we expect alternative ecosystems beyond Android and iOS to emerge. With consumers using fewer or more integrated apps, new mobile platforms that offer a more relevant experience such as WeChat in China or Facebook Messenger in the US are quickly accumulating power as the owners of vast audiences and rich data about those consumers.” 

 

A Brazilian Judge Banned WhatsApp... and Another One Un-Banned It

 

Shutterstock_152336882

Last week, in a dramatic turnaround, a Brazilian judge reversed his decision to suspend messaging app WhatsApp, overturning an order from a lower court. The original ruling saw the service banned for 48 hours, but only lasted 12 hours before appeals court judge Xavier de Souza rescinded it. 

De Souza’s decision was a result of the app’s huge user base in Brazil, amounting to around 100 million people. The judge ruled that the inconvenience of such large-scale interruption to service outweighed the initial suspension order, which was imposed after WhatsApp failed to share user data during a criminal case.

“Considering the constitutional principles, it does not look reasonable that millions of users be affected as a result of the company’s inertia to provide information.”

In Brazil, more than nine out of ten Android devices are installed with WhatsApp, making it the most popular app in the country. But the firm ran into trouble with the judicial system after a drug trafficking case in Sao Paolo, during which WhatsApp was cited as the mode of communication used by the city’s notorious criminal gangs. The company was asked by the prosecution to release messages between traffickers, but failed to comply, despite two separate court orders.

WhatsApp insists it was unable - rather than unwilling - to comply with the escalating requests. On August 7th, after failing to supply the data requested for the second time, a judge ordered local phone companies to deny access to the app for 48 hours. 

Congressmen (who are known to be among the many professionals to use WhatsApp as part of their work) joined the chorus of disapproval regarding the suspension. There was international outcry when the suspension appeared to affect users even beyond Brazil’s borders, with hundreds of Chilean and Argentinians took to social media to complain about interruptions during the 12 hours the ban lasted.

Facebook, who owns WhatsApp, finally waded into the row when CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a statement claiming to be “stunned that our efforts to protect people’s data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp.”

In the face of overwhelming opposition from every corner of society, including senior politicians, the suspension ultimately proved untenable, and service was resumed as soon as the ruling was overturned.

Google Partners with British Museum to Offer Online Service

 

82856656

Want to explore the British Museum without flying 3,000 miles across the Atlantic? Google has partnered with the famous attraction to make this happen. It’s now possible to view more than 4,500 objects from the museum’s extensive collection online via the Google Cultural Institute. It’s easily the Institute’s biggest project to date, and is designed not only to provide virtual visitation convenience, but also to offer enthusiasts the chance to learn more about the art and artifacts before exploring the real thing. That way, visitors get the chance to do more than just “walk through” the museum. 

 

Enlightenment Fantasy Come to Life

Departing British Museum director Neil MacGregor called the launch “a very important day in the history of the British Museum,” and said that the Google Cultural Institute is bringing the museum’s 18th-century dream of being a “collection of the world, for the world” to life. 

“That Enlightenment fantasy, about 25 years ago became an Internet possibility, and today, thanks to the Google Cultural Institute, it is a practical reality,” MacGregor remarked. “Every person on the planet, whether they are in Brazil or China, Mozambique or India, will be able to walk round the British Museum. They will be able to use the collection as if it were their own collection and explore the world in their own way.”

 

The Tour Itself

Virtually exploring the museum is a fairly simple process. Simply choose the floor you’d like to “wander” around, and up pops a list of what’s available on that floor. There are 4,859 objects to view online so far, including one of the museum’s most prized possessions, the fourth-century Admonitions scroll from China. This scroll is only available for in-person viewing a few months out of the year due to its extreme fragility. 

 

Project Scale

The scale of this project is quite amazing, as it’s currently the largest space captured by Indoor Street View. The footage took 15 months to film, as it had to be done during off-hours. It’s even possible to visit the museum basement if one needs a “break” from the art and other historical objects, though the basement mainly consists of orange lockers. 

The British Museum joins 800 other cultural institutions already in the Google Cultural Institute. The virtual tour features specially curated exhibitions, including Celtic Life in Iron Age Britain and Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs

The technology used to create the virtual tour is the same technology utilized in Google Maps. 

Google Cultural Institute director Amit Sood remarked that one goal was to “bridge the gap between high culture and popular culture.” If the tour encourages fans of Internet cat videos to learn more about British Museum cat sculptures, Sood said he and his team would have done their jobs. 

 

Google Brings App Streaming to Mobile Ads

 

Depositphotos_9056799_xs

Google launched a new way to find information last month, even if such information is locked up tight within a mobile app. The search engine’s “Trial Run” gives consumers 60 seconds of playtime before deciding whether they want to make the app a member of their home screen. Google made it so advertisers pay only when a consumer installs the app rather than every time someone opts for a trial run. That way, advertisers are paying for those truly interested in the game, not consumers who download on a wing and a prayer. 

"The immersive demo increases the likelihood that an install is coming from someone who enjoys playing the game," according to the blog post written by Google director of mobile ads Sissie Hsiao and product manager Pasha Nahass. "Users get a taste of the game before going through the download process, and the app developer attracts better qualified users who've chosen the game based on their experiences in the app."

The format is designed to offset recent Google research that found one in four downloaded apps never gets used. Trial run ads are currently behind one third of all mobile app revenue, with advertisers very willing to pay more for them because they result in actual downloads. Of course, if the consumer downloads and ignores the app in question, it’s not worth much to advertisers. This new option subsequently offers the chance to increase brand awareness by ensuring the person will (probably) use the app. 

 

Changes to Interactive Ads

Google also announced an HTML5 ad for interactive interstitial ads. The idea is to create a customized user experience designed specifically for every advertiser’s app. The search engine touts the ads as providing creative freedom to advertisers who utilize HTML5 as opposed to a standard template. Interstitial ads give advertisers the chance to display products through galleries and point out personal branding options. Global fashion retailer Zalora, for example, is using the feature so consumers can swipe for exclusive offers. 

"We understand that experiences on mobile need to be made for mobile, and an ad is no different," Hsiao and Nahass said. "We're continually exploring new and better ways to build out interactive formats for the small screen."

Both of these possibilities are still in the beta testing stage and therefore available to a handful of advertisers. 

“You can buy ads, you can get apps installed. But a lot of apps are used once or they’re never used, even after they’re installed,” Hsiao noted, emphasizing that the formats are designed to pair app developers with the right users. “We found that 1 in 4 apps is never even used, and there’s often this ‘try once’ experience, and then [the app is] never used again,” Hsiao adds.

Google noted that app developers interested in joining the beta should contact their account managers.