Advertising via Text Messaging

An article in the July 2004 issue of Inc. magazine (page 42) discusses how text messages to cell phones are being used to advertise and market to consumers. They reference a specific example of a shopping mall having collected cell phone numbers from 2000 shoppers (presumably by having them opt-in to receive text messages from the mall) who then began receiving text messages with special offer messages like “Twenty percent off at the register” or “Free appetizer when you dine with a friend.” The text message then gets exchanged, at the mall’s information desk, for a paper coupon to be redeemed in stores and restaurants.

What’s remarkable is that they claim “80% of all text screen coupons were converted.” Now, they don’t say how many converted coupons were redeemed, but they do say that “the tenants that participated all saw a jump in their sales.”

I like the idea in limited doses. No one wants to get tons of text messages, with their cell phones going off all the time, even if they did opt-in. But, occasional targeted offers would be good and convenient. Of course, the greatest concern is that this goes the way of email SPAM and we start getting stuff we didn’t ask for. There are no SPAM filters for text messages…yet!