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“Mobile advertising” usually conjures up images of banner ads or maybe native advertising, but a few firms think the future is in the humble text message.
Brands including Ikea, Kellogg, Bloomingdales, Starbucks and TV networks ABC, Fox and CBS have launched marketing outreach programs designed for SMS and MMS. The latter is seen by some as an opportunity for multimedia ads, including video.
In a vote of confidence for the latter, Chicago’s Iris Mobile announced this week that it received $3 million in Series A financing led by Chicago’s Origin Ventures, Illinois Ventures, Hyde Park Angels and OCA Ventures. The funding will help the company expand its product offerings.
Deep Malik, Iris’s co-founder and COO, says using his platform, brands can reach any phone, whether it’s an iPhone 5S, a flip-phone or a Lumia. Why texting? Malik says consumers are more apt to open text messages than emails and more likely to redeem offers as well. Messages that use rich media are opened more often still because, as he says, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Iris isn’t the only one making the pitch. Mogreet, a unit of Payvia, is also preaching the multimedia MMS gospel as is Vehicle, a Seattle-based startup; and ePrize. “It’s an app that every single person in the world has,” says James Citron, the CMO of Payvia and former CEO of Mogreet. ”
People don’t think about it but there are two apps that are on every phone — phone calling and texting.” Despite the popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, which are also seen as possible vehicles for advertising, because it comes standard on smartphones, MMS is growing faster.