Politics

20 posts categorized

August 22, 2014

Germany Harnessing 'Silent Texts' to Locate Cell Phones

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In Germany, police and intelligence agencies have been using ‘silent’ SMS messages to locate cell phones without their owners’ knowledge. Details of the covert practice emerged after a parliamentarian expressed alarm at the escalation of secret text dispatches; the government responded with an admission that 125,000 such messages were sent during the first six months of 2013 alone. That number has increased this year, with 150,000 silent SMS messages sent between January and June. 

The text messages are not displayed on cell phones, but when sent en masse to a single device, can be used to precisely locate the user and observe their movements within a network. Parliamentary approval is required before each individual can be tracked.

But Andrej Hunko of the Left party raised alarm at what he termed ‘spy-SMS’ messages, prompting the government to reveal the number of German residents who had been targeted by the dispatches. According to the figures, domestic intelligence agency VfS had sent nearly 53,000 secret texts during the first half of 2014. Federal police had sent almost 69,000, and the Federal Criminal Office – Germany’s investigative police – had sent more than 34,000. The figures did not include silent text messages sent by foreign intelligence agents, customs officials or the army’s intelligence service.

However, the government did disclose details about surveillance, admitting that the Federal Criminal Office – or BKA – had eavesdropped on 704 separate calls, emails or text messages during 2014 so far.

The international community has expressed some surprise about the revelations, especially in light of the recent scandal regarding U.S. surveillance of world leaders. Surveillance is understandably a very sensitive issue in Germany, and many feel government has acted hypocritically with the use of clandestine SMS tracking technology. We await the full figures for 2014 with interest…

August 03, 2014

Hispanic Market Growth Reaches New Heights

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Though we are still in the early days of mobile marketing, new technologies are allowing businesses to share their brand in revolutionary ways. Reports about new advertising techniques and ways to reach consumers on their mobile devices are flooding the blogosphere. But are advertisers paying attention to the changing face of the mobile marketplace? The real news flash: The Hispanic Market represents the fastest growing segment in the U.S.

This information from the Census Bureau and Nielsen is not really new. Marketers have been watching for years as this minority has grown into a significant force in the advertising world. Currently about 1 in 6 Americans are Hispanics. By the year 2050, however, Hispanics will represent one-third of the entire American populace.

These statistics are even more significant when we look at buying power. Hispanics command over $1 Trillion dollars in spending capital. The media have been aware of their buying power for a couple of years now: in 2012, the U.S. media spent $7.9 billion in advertising dollars that target Hispanic consumers.

Market analysts have been mining this data to find out what makes Hispanic consumers tick. The average age of Hispanics is 28 years old, and nearly 8% of Hispanics use their mobile devices to seek out content. Neilsen studies have shown that Hispanics outpace all other ethnic groups in mobile downloads of music and photos, and they are more likely than others to watch video on their mobile phones. Most Hispanics age 18 or older spend about 4.5 hours per day using social media. About half of Hispanics use social media during purchases, in the form of product reviews, the best deals, and to share their own shopping experiences. By incorporating this data into their strategies, mobile marketers have the opportunity to take advantage of how and where Hispanics spend their money.

Hispanics are also heavy phone users. On average, they send and receive more than 900 texts per month – more than any other ethnic group. Also, they make an average of thirteen calls per day, which is 40% more than the average U.S. consumer.

Hispanic consumers have a history of committing to certain brands. They are 25% more likely to follow a brand than the average U.S. adult. In a recent survey, 38% of Hispanics admitted that they generally select certain brands when they have customer loyalty programs. In a similar fashion: Hispanics are 18% more likely to follow a celebrity. 

According to Nielsen, Hispanic video viewers are 68% more likely than non-Hispanic White viewers to watch video on the Internet, and 20% more likely to watch video on their mobile phone. This may be due to the fact that Hispanics are less likely to have internet access at home than the average U.S. consumer (14% less likely, in fact).

There is a wealth of data available surrounding customers in today’s fast-paced world of mobile marketing. Knowing the ways that Hispanics choose to do business can give you a leg up against the competition. By approaching the Hispanic population with a mobile app, service, or direct mobile marketing, marketers can successfully target a consumer base that practice brand loyalty and constant engagement. It’s time for mobile marketers to wake up to the thriving Hispanic market.

June 30, 2014

How SMS is Revolutionizing Emerging Economies

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Since 2007, individual farmers in developing countries are estimated to have made up to $4000 in additional profits and saved twice as much – and it’s all thanks to SMS messaging.

First trialed in India, and now being rolled out in other emerging economies, Reuters Market Light (RML) has had a truly revolutionary impact on the lives of rural workers since being introduced. This noble scheme was designed to level the playing field for remote farmers operating in a globalized marketplace. The service acts as a watchdog-cum-information-hub for agricultural commerce, issuing crucial information to people who may not have internet access.

It’s a far cry from the sophisticated mobile marketing tactics employed in the western world, but RML has demonstrated just how powerful SMS messaging can be in the absence of smartphones and web connectivity. Thus far, millions of farmers all over the world have received vital updates throughout the season, with information tailored to the specific needs of an individual’s profile. Information like regional and global market rates for crops; local weather data and disaster alerts; advice on increasing productivity and reducing risk, and other information that could have an impact on operational costs.

The scheme is intended to safeguard vulnerable workers against exploitative middlemen who seek to undercut them. There’s no shortage of compelling testimony to the efficacy of the work being done by RML. One story tells of a grape farmer who began exporting produce to Russia after learning of the country’s higher prices. It’s estimated that a staggering 1.2 million farmers in India are using the program to improve their chances.

RML offers a moving demonstration of how the humble mobile phone can help some of the world’s poorest people without the bells and whistles of the smartphones which proliferate among the world’s richest. SMS messaging, it seems, is powerful enough to raise living standards and brings some semblance of equality to a globalized economy. Kenya has used SMS messaging payment programs to reduce robbery statistics, with an amazing 25% of the country’s GDP now flowing through the M-Pesa system.

Studies indicate that introducing ten cell phones per one hundred people in the developing world can boost economic growth by 1%. RML, M-Pesa, and others are truly improving the lot of some of the hardest-hit regions on earth, giving citizens cheaper services, better access to crucial economic data, and ultimately creating greater expectations about acceptable living standards.

 

May 02, 2014

Using Emojis in Text Marketing

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Remember the early days of Web 1.0? Every site had a garish color scheme. Pioneering html coders took a fast and loose approach to formatting. Most of all, those early developers were extremely limited in terms of the type of content they could provide. It was all huge blocks of text, presented in one of the seven or so fonts available at the time (none of them attractive).

 

Look how far we’ve come in twenty years. The inexorable rise of video and photo sharing apps like Instagram, Hulu, YouTube and SnapChat indicate an audience that overwhelmingly prefers visual content over plain text.

 

The evolution of an increasingly passive, content-hungry audience has thrown up some major challenges for mobile marketing campaign strategists. How do you keep visual content fresh? This is a particular challenge for small businesses who lack the budget to keep generating exciting new content.

 

Emojis are a fantastic method of adding some color and vim to your campaign without spending too much cash. Originally from Japan, these tiny pictographs represent emotions, objects, ideas and much more. In 2011, after Apple added them as a language option, their popularity had exploded.

 

Why are they so useful for mobile marketing campaigns? Well, even the very best writers can have their text misconstrued; not everything can be communicated through words. Emojis can convey certain emotions and tones of voice in a way that mere words cannot.

 

Emojis have been used with great success by a number of mobile marketing campaigns, including PETA’s Cruelty Beyond Words initiative. The target demographic was principally a young audience who tend to engage less with charitable causes. Realistic, vivid emojis have been used to encourage young people to share information about the initiative, with PETA supporters able to text a red heart emoji to 73822.

 

Branded emojis are helping companies and organizations of all stripes reach more of the 80%+ of US mobile users who send text messages. The ubiquity of texting makes it the perfect platform for mobile marketing managers to engage with audiences – especially younger people. And for important social movements, where images are often more powerful than words, emojis are becoming an essential part of the fabric of mobile communication.

 

November 19, 2013

Mobile Marketing Tactics Made for Millennials

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Generation Y, also referred to as the Millennials, comprises the largest demographic in the United States, according to USA Today. Ranging in age from early teens to early 30’s, Millenials make up almost 90 million Americans, and to marketers this market is crucial to keep in mind when developing brand awareness. They must consider the ease and speed of information to which these young consumers are accustomed, the plethora of brands that are competing for their attention, and of course young people’s increasing inclination and ability to avoid traditional advertising ploys.

So, how best can advertisers communicate with this tech-savvy market? An emerging understanding, illuminated by Inc Magazine, is that Millennials are not as driven by money as their predecessors were but rather by purpose and mission. Hence, young people must believe in and trust the brands they engage with, and they must feel a sense of significance in such engagement. This is affecting consumer trends and marketing tactics, as traditional mediums just aren’t working the way they did for Baby-Boomers and Gen X’ers.

Marketing strategies like Direct Mail, Email marketing, TV and Radio, and others simply aren’t making an impact in brand development for Millennials. Young people don’t pay attention to superfluous snail mail, and their email inboxes have too strong of SPAM filters and are too inundated with non-personalized advertising to take effect. And with the advent of music, radio, and TV on demand, skipping commercials is easy. Hence, most advertisers are transitioning their marketing strategies to engage in more fun, interesting, and tech-relevant ways.

One of the most important new ways of communicating with and monetizing this demographic is through mobile marketing. Millennials utilize mobile technology more than any other medium to socialize, purchase, and search. Utilizing mobile marketing strategies such as text marketing, voicemail broadcasting, mobile app advertising, mobile search marketing, and other creative mobile marketing ideas is becoming increasingly more important in the race to gain Millennials’ attention. Mobile is perhaps the most used and certainly the most intimate way of building trust and loyalty among this young demographic. Any brand interested in obtaining and sustaining Millennials’ attention must get creative and go mobile!

August 16, 2012

Last Word On Text-2-Donate For Political Campaigns In US?

Text-2-donate-votingWe've written in the past about the prospect of text-2-donate campaigns for this year's Federal elections in the US - back in June the FEC (Federal Election Commission) approved of the plan, but then a few weeks later that decision was thrown into doubt. Although the FEC had given the green light, the nation's major wireless carriers balked. As we noted then:

But the wireless carriers who would oversee the donations-by-text service - including the four U.S. giants Sprint Nextel Corp, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA - have yet to get on board with the plan.

The carriers - who account for about 90 percent of the more than 330 million wireless subscriptions in the United States - are worried about an array of liability and regulatory issues they could face in handling contributions to presidential and congressional candidates.

The carriers are asking the FEC for more guidance on how they should implement a donations-by-text program, according to four industry sources.

One sticking point is that the carriers want to make sure they will not be held liable for determining donors' eligibility to contribute to a campaign, industry sources said.

Reuters now has word that the FEC has assuaged the carriers - so it looks like the program is a go:

Americans moved a step closer to being able to make campaign contributions by text message on Wednesday when the Federal Election Commission approved protections sought by wireless carriers over fraud and profitability.

The FEC ruled that wireless carriers would have no responsibility for possible fraudulent campaign donations and could refuse text-donation services to campaigns if they are not deemed commercially viable.

"Barring some unforeseen issue I think this increases the likelihood that text donations in some form will be used this year," said Jan Baran, a prominent campaign finance lawyer representing carriers.

Read more over @ Reuters.

July 31, 2012

Political Apps: Obama For America & Mitt's VP

Back in 2008, the Obama campaign sent one of the most famous text messages of all time, announcing Joe Biden as his VP to millions of supporters; this year Mitt Romney is also taking a mobile approach:

The Romney app, which is available on both iOS and Android, is called “Mitt’s VP.” Users can sign in with their Facebook or “MyMitt” accounts. The app asks users to enter in personal info and activate push notifications. Once the campaign makes a VP choice, it’ll blast the message to all users who have done so.

While they're clearly doing this to gather more data (The information collected by the app, such as users’ location, could potentially be used by the Romney campaign in the future for targeted messaging, particularly in crucial swing states.), this doesn't strike us as the most intelligent move. Obama already proved that the fast, succinct text message was the ideal medium to deliver a tiny bit of information to millions of people. And, given that the Romney Campaign already has a general app 'With Mitt,' this is somewhat of a head-scratcher.

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As for the mobile-savvy Obama campaign, they aren't resting on the laurels of their 2008 success. They announced a new app today as well:

Obama’s app, named “Obama for America,” is a full-fledged political organizing tool that lives on a user’s phone. The app delivers news about the Obama campaign, lets supporters locate and sign up for nearby campaign events (such as voter registration drives), allows users an easy way to donate to the campaign and includes a “Get Out the Vote” section featuring information about each state’s voter registration policies and the location of nearby polling places.

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Read more @ Mashable or read our previous mobile politics coverage.

July 09, 2012

ON HOLD: Text-2-Donate For Political Campaigns In US

Text-2-donate-fecAbout a month ago word came down from the Federal Election Committee that popular text-2-donate campaigns could be used for Federal and State elections - a potential fund-raising gamechanger for the 2012 Presidential & Congressional races. The FEC decision seemed to some of us at Ez Texting as coming out of nowhere - and it turns out that was the case for the carriers too. Why? Text-2-Donate seems simple to consumers. You text a keyword to a short code and 5 or 10 dollars are added to your phone bill. In reality, there's a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. When you add in Federal election laws, well, it gets a lot more complicated:

But the wireless carriers who would oversee the donations-by-text service - including the four U.S. giants Sprint Nextel Corp, Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA - have yet to get on board with the plan.

The carriers - who account for about 90 percent of the more than 330 million wireless subscriptions in the United States - are worried about an array of liability and regulatory issues they could face in handling contributions to presidential and congressional candidates.

The carriers are asking the FEC for more guidance on how they should implement a donations-by-text program, according to four industry sources.

One sticking point is that the carriers want to make sure they will not be held liable for determining donors' eligibility to contribute to a campaign, industry sources said.

But wait, there's even more:

Text donations, capped at $10 per text and $50 a month, according to the FEC ruling, would allow givers to remain anonymous, although campaigns would have access to the donors' phone numbers. Donations by text messages also would be limited to a total of $200 per phone number to avoid triggering a federal requirement for disclosure of that donor's identity and address.

Donating to political campaigns by text would be similar to giving to charity: A donor would send a message to a text code and then confirm his or her intention and eligibility. But in this case, carriers and aggregators processing the payment would take a significant cut from each transaction as they do with other non-charitable transactions, such as purchases of ring tones.

That cut appears to be part of the reason for tension that carriers are feeling over text donations to campaigns. The fee could reach 30 percent to 50 percent of each donation, according to FEC documents, putting wireless carriers in a potentially uncomfortable position of doing business with campaigns and their fundraising efforts.

Discounts on fees for a political campaign risk qualifying as an in-kind donation to the campaign from the wireless carrier, analysts said, a scenario that carriers want to avoid.

Head over to Reuters for the full exclusive. However this plays out, fundraising in 2012 with Super PACs, the Internet (social too!), and possibly text-2-donate will certainly make for unique races.

June 14, 2012

Text-2-Donate For Political Campaigns In US Approved

Earlier this week the Federal Election Commission (FEC) approved text-to-donate for political campaigns. Politico reports:

The Federal Election Commission on Monday night unanimously voted to allow Americans to make political donations via text message, making Androids, iPhones and BlackBerrys the newest weapon in the battle to raise unprecedented amounts of money.

The decision will take effect immediately, although it may be days or weeks before the system is fully functional. Individual phone numbers will be capped at $50 worth of donations per billing cycle per political candidate or committee.

Texting a political donation will be akin to what many charities already do in asking people to text a short message to a five-digit number in support of a cause.

Upon doing so, a donor has a fixed amount of money — often $10, sometimes more — charged to his or her account. The process takes a matter of seconds in contrast to comparatively clunkier methods, such as writing a paper check or using a credit card after filling out an online donation form.

The result? A win for democracy:

Both parties, as well as campaign finance reform advocates, say the move will allow Americans of modest means to play a greater role in a democratic process dominated this election cycle by billionaires and multimillionaires and political organizations such as super PACs that may raise and spend money without restriction.

Learn more at Politico.

 

April 23, 2012

SMS Text Messaging on the Campaign Trail

Entry By Jason Brick

Every four years, the U.S. gets exciting. In just 12 months' time, we get Leap Day, the Summer Olympics and a Presidential Election. Things get kind of crazy. Marketing experts have advised -- and learned from -- Presidential campaigns for decades. This time around, mobile marketers get to do the same thing. Check out these brilliant, interesting and amusing examples of text messaging campaigns at all levels of government.

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During the 2008 Obama campaign, the announcement of Joe Biden as running mate didn't come from a press release; it came via text message. It reached 10 million recipients, from key media figures to campaign supporters.

From the President to the Tea Party to grassroots activists, text and SMS communication has been key in creating "flash mobs" and organizing demonstrations and public events.

Bill Dudley, a group director for mobile powerhouse Sybase365, went public chiding both parties for still using robocalls instead of text-based campaigns, calling the older method "so 1990s."

Michele Bachmann was the first candidate of 2012 to use an active SMS campaign. Though she was far from the front runner, her efforts included the foresight to include among keywords all the common misspellings of her name.

Microtargeting -- sending niche messages to subsets of supporters -- has been part of election strategy for Democrats, Republicans and minor parties for decades. Text message has become part of this strategy since the 2004 election. 

Younger voters, those in the 18 to 30 year range, are particular targets of SMS campaigns by the major parties. It's seen as a way to involve a group that's often considered less politically engaged than older voters. 

In Jefferson City, Missouri, Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan used small, graffiti-like signs in bathrooms to collect opt-ins for her 2010 text campaign. "Text FLUSH to Robin" is an example. 

California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman offered a free hat to anybody who could text in the answer to "Which California team has won the most College World Series?"

As of this spring, analysts note that the presidential campaigns are strong on social networking and web presence, but haven't yet capitalized on the full potential of SMS. Don't make that mistake with your own marketing plan.