Tag Archives: facebook

Sponsored SMS bulletins show promise

New media consultant and columnist Steve Smith speculated recently in MediaPost that we will soon be receiving many more sponsored messages with our cell phone’s text bulletins. These text bulletins, also known as SMS messages, are the 140-character packets that helped Justine Ezarik rack up a 300-page AT&T cell phone bill. (She reports that Twitter and the SMS feature of Facebook were the biggest culprits. Each message sent and received was separately itemized.)

The good news is these messages will be extremely targeted, and are “opted into” in exchange for the content received. An example cited by Smith is NASCAR race updates, sent to the 200,000 subscribers to this branded program. He explains that if a supermarket chain would want to target those interested in NASCAR, “There is enough mass there to net perhaps 80,000 users in a general geographic region.”

That’s enough to make quite an impact. Especially since response rates are impressively high.

Although the initial calls to action must be quite brief — 20 to 80 characters — the extremely targeted nature of the messages helps response. A “response” is usually hitting reply, to receive a full (up to 140 characters) expansion of the offer and a URL to click on. This graphic , provided by the MoVoxx site, helps illustrate the typical process:

How InTxt by MoVoxx works

Alec Andronikov, who is the managing partner of MoVoxx, says that of the many billions of SMS messages sent each month, somewhere around 500 million of them are some kind of publisher-pushed alert. And each could conceivably be sponsored. Smith continues:

Right now, [Andronikov] claims about 3.5 million uniques with sports, travel, dating and newspapers comprising the largest content categories. … Andronikov claims a response rate of 2.5% to 4% on the SMS ads.

That means a hypothetical, regionally-based supermarket chain running a NASCAR promotion could get their entire message in front of at least 2,000 fans (80,000 recipients of the initial, sponsored message multiplied by a 2.5% response rate). If the offer is compelling enough, this can win the chain hundreds of new customers.

The ability to target consumers by age, gender and zip code — as well as areas of personal interest, as implied by the content to which a consumer subscribes — promises a way to take the junk out of junk text messages.

Through testing we’ll soon see whether these campaigns “have legs” — whether they can generate enough of a return on investment to make them a smart, new marketing tactic.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein: The latest in the battle between Facebook and MySpace

The Frankenstein’s monster of the Universal Studios film was hideous. A product of an unholy experiment, it was gruesomely assembled, yet through a miracle of science walked the earth, wrecking havoc. Count Dracula, from the same studio at about the same time, was mysterious and elegant. This monster’s seductive powers were finely focused. Dracula came from a remote, distant land. And, like the heretofore Mary Shelley invention, wrecked his own considerable share of havoc. Guess which is MySpace and which is Facebook?

Dracula vs. Frankenstein: According to IMDB, a really bad movieAnd if you’re wondering who is winning the battle of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, well, it’s too early to tell. They are definitely using their differing powers differently, and with equal aplomb.

It was exactly a month ago when Facebook announced it would open its platform to outside developers. This online social network certainly regards no site more of a competitor than MySpace. The move to a great extent was to blunt the loss of users over to that site.

It’s an important strategy. Facebook has only a quarter of the members as MySpace (28 million versus MySpace’s 108 million). How do you argue with that that kind of success? Or compete against these kind of numbers? If you’re Facebook, the answer is you reverse course.

In their game-changing move, Facebook chose to swing open the doors to their platform to all manner of third-party widgets and software. This Slate article explains how these applications individually amount to little, but cumulatively they can spell a huge advantage (thanks, Bryn, for the link):

None of the nearly 900 (and counting) programs released so far are particularly life-changing—among the most popular add-ons are a “Graffiti” program (downloaded by more than 3.3 million people as of this writing) that lets you doodle other people’s profiles and an “Honesty Box” that lets your friends say, anonymously, what they really think of you. Collectively, though, these programs are hugely significant. If the site figures out a smart way to deploy these mini applications, it will be more than just a social network. Facebook will turn into a do-everything site with the potential to devour the whole Internet.

Good move, Facebook. That had to smart. What would you do in response if you’re MySpace — a site that has been, after all, the anti-Facebook? MySpace has always been open to all comers, fertile soil for application developers — including YouTube videos, which are embedded in MySpace profiles by the millions.

So what do you do? You selectively compete against the very products you’ve allowed to thrive in your garden. Starting with YouTube, itself a threat. This week we learn that MySpace has improved their own embedded video product: MySpace TV.

The clearest damage that could come of this is to YouTube. And it’s a good thing, because YouTube is developing its own social network chops. But the move also shows a different approach to getting and keeping users: Don’t rely on others to produce your most popular applications. Instead, provide them yourself, so you can get traffic to both your own social media site and the site that feeds it.

Mind you, MySpace TV is no copy-cat of YouTube. Instead of trying to engage YouTube at its sweet spot — user-generated videos — MySpace TV focuses on professionally produced videos. Very smart.

It’s a characteristic move from a company that has so far behaved surprisingly shrewdly. Even a patchwork Frankenstein’s monster can display uncanny survival instincts.

To see an excellent face-off between Facebook and Myspace features, check out this recent evaluation of the two by our friends at Mashable.