Friday, May 29, 2009

Is CBS Outdoor About To Give Shortcodes Their Day In The Sun?

Sometimes it amazes me how long it takes for the most basic technology to achieve any meaningful scale. Such is the curse of the early adopter...such is the curse of the entire mobile content space. It's been 7 years since Labatt's ran the first North American cross-carrier shortcode campaign...but as I've mentioned previously such initiatives have never gotten much love or achieved much scale in the US. During a focus group with 50 college-aged kids 2 summers ago I asked how many had ever entered in a shortcode into their mobile phone in response to a marketing message in another medium...and not one raised their hand. Even text marketing campaigns that are viewed as successful are usually deemed so because of amazing conversion rates...not the raw numbers of responses (which are usually very small). Well, that may be about to change. This week old media goliath CBS Outdoor announced that it's introducing a major SMS initiative dubbed txt2go that will allow its media clients to easily add keywords & shortcodes to out of home campaigns so that they can track their efficacy and extend the marketing relationship with respondents (with additional messaging, coupons, sweepstakes, etc.). It's obviously been possible to add shortcodes to outdoor campaign in the past...but it has always involved totally separate setup process (that is expensive & slow for those brands that don't have established shortcode initiatives) and coordination between a variety of vendors. In this case it's a "tick the box" at a cost of $225 per 500 responses and a 2-3 day setup time (this must be for shared shortcodes)...making it a much simpler proposition for clients. txt2go uses a text marketing platform from a company called Rip Road (must say...had never heard of them). I'm actually surprised that one of the text messaging big boys like mBlox, VeriSign, 2ergo or Singlepoint isn't directly powering this initiative...but whatever, good for Rip Road. It will be really interesting to see how many & how quickly CBS Outdoor clients bolt this functionality onto their campaigns. I'm keeping my eyes open.

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