In Mobile Marketing, Texting Still Rules

NEW YORK Marketers are getting increasingly comfortable with running text-messaging campaigns, yet they are still wary of including video and other multimedia messaging components, according to a newly released survey.

A poll of 50 brand marketers, mostly based in Europe but operating internationally, found increased experience with text-message campaigns, with 28 percent having undertaken such efforts. By comparison, 18 percent used multimedia messaging (MMS).

The brands, which were surveyed in July by mobile messaging provider Airwide Solutions, expressed a reluctance of both the technology of MMS and customer acceptance. Of those not using it, two-thirds said it was “not right” for their audience and another 34 percent said the technology wasn’t reliable enough. Both those figures were higher than a separate survey Airwide conducted with marketers a year ago.

What’s more, 46 percent of brands said mobile marketing is “too intrusive” and can be perceived by customers as spam.

“The fact that 18 percent have done one or more [MMS] campaigns is not insignificant,” said Airwide CMO Jay Seaton. “It hasn’t reached a peak yet, but it feels like it’s gaining momentum.”

Despite their wariness, the poll found marketers bullish on the results they have received in early campaigns: 75 percent reported mobile-marketing response rates over 5 percent. Another 27 percent said they saw purchase rates of over 5 percent in campaigns.

Mobile marketing is just starting to take off. According to eMarketer, the worldwide market for it was $1.5 billion last year. It forecasts that to grow to nearly $14 billion by 2011. Advertisers are running their own messaging campaigns, through texting and MMS, as well as buying display and search ads on mobile sites.

Airwide found 32 percent of brands expect to spend more than 5 percent of their marketing budgets on mobile marketing in 2009; 58 percent expect to reach that level by 2012.

“Nine months ago, it was evaluation,” said Seaton. “We’re beyond the evaluation stage. Now there’s enough data that this is moving forward and is going to happen. But it’s really just getting started and is at its early stages.”