16.5 Multimedia Message Service
- Learn what MMS (multimedia message service) is and understand its role in eMarketing.
- Learn what USSD (unstructured supplementary services data) is and understand its role in eMarketing.
Multimedia message service (MMS) messages are messages that contain graphics, audio, video, or images as well as text. These messages allow for richer information to be sent to prospects, but the costs are considerably higher. They use wireless application protocol (WAP)A technology platform aimed at making Web sites accessible to mobile phones, despite the small screens and keypad limitations. WAP is essentially a wireless data connection and browser that can read a pared-down version of hypertext markup language (HTML). to download rich content onto mobile phones.
MMS messages are particularly useful in viral campaigns, whether encouraging participants to use their phones to create content (photographic, audio, or video) or encouraging users to pass on content.
Because there is no standard screen size across all mobile devices, MMS messages may display differently on different phone models.
Bluetooth and Infrared
Most modern mobile phones present an array of means for connecting. As well as using the cellular network, many phones have 3G (third-generation) and Wi-Fi (wireless-fidelity) capabilities, and the ability to connect via Bluetooth or infrared.
If a user sets his Bluetooth enabled mobile phone to “discoverable,” Bluetooth devices within range of the phone can request to connect to the phone and exchange messages and data. This can be used to send location-specific marketing messages, such as discount codes in a shopping mall.
Smartphones are susceptible to receiving viruses via Bluetooth, so this is not necessarily the ideal channel to reach smartphone users.
Outdoor display advertising can be fitted to send Bluetooth messages to people within range of the advertising. The messages can contain further information to offer a richer, longer lasting experience. Note that these messages are often unexpected, so care must be taken not to be intrusive. There should be marketing collateral easily available and accessible that describes what the campaign is about.
USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Services Data)
USSD (unstructured supplementary services data) is an alternative messaging system to SMS (short message service) and is available on most GSMMost widely used of the three digital wireless-telephone technologies. Uses a variation of time-division multiple access. (Global System for Mobile Communications) networks. Unlike SMS, USSD is a protocol that allows for a query-and-response type of action between the customer and a service center, where these transactions can be seen to be similar to a session on a Web site. USSD services are usually initiated by the user who enters a code on his phone and then sends that as a request to the network. The code differs from the number an SMS is sent to because it includes the symbols # and *. For example, *100# can be used to check the balance of a prepaid service on some networks. These services are often used by networks to provide a service to a customer, such as requesting balance information, adding credit to a prepaid contract, or passing on credit to another mobile phone user. A popular service is a “call back” functionality, where a mobile phone user sends a request by USSD for another user to phone him. The requested number receives an SMS informing her of the request. Often, this SMS message also includes an advertising message.
A USSD query often initiates a session where the response from the service includes a simple text menu with further options or a response with instructions for the user. Users need to respond within a limited time frame, usually thirty seconds but up to two minutes, in order to maintain the session. If the session is not maintained, the user will need to initiate the service again. Users can select menu options by returning a message with the number of the appropriate menu selection. This continues until the appropriate content has been displayed. It is a rudimentary navigation, but with far faster response times and lower costs when compared to SMS or to mobile browsing.
USSD and Marketing
USSD is being used as a payment application, turning the mobile phone into a virtual wallet.
USSD is exceptionally useful as self-service customer service and is attractive to customers when it is offered for free. Advertising can easily be displayed in the messages returned when using this service.
Voting, such as for a reality television program, and entering of competitions can all be handled through USSD. USSD services allow greater flexibility than SMS services as they allow a query-and-response type of interaction as opposed to a single message to perform these tasks. This allows the marketer to request additional information from consumers using these services.
USSD can be used to provide information to, and collect information from, customers and potential customers. However, from a marketing and advertising perspective, its adoption has not been as great as that of SMS. While USSD services are more cost effective than SMS services and can allow for more detailed data to be collected, SMS services are often preferred by the customer. SMS common short codes (CSCs) are easier to remember than USSD codes, and the concept of sending a text message is more familiar to the customer.
- MSS (multimedia message service) messages are messages that contain graphics, audio, video, or images as well as text.
- The costs are considerably higher for MMS, but in return for richer content.
- MMS message are useful in viral campaigns.
- Because there is no standard for screens on mobile devices, MMS messages may display differently.
- Many MMS phones have the ability to connect via Bluetooth or infrared.
- USSD (unstructured supplementary services data) is an alternative messaging system to SMS (short message service).
- USSD is more rudimentary, but has far faster response times and lower costs when compared to SMS or to mobile browsing.
- USSD is being used as a virtual wallet.
- USSD can be used for things like voting on reality television shows and entering competitions.
- USSD can be used for information collection.
- USSD services are more cost effective, but consumers prefer SMS because the concept is easier for the consumer to remember, and the CSCs (common short codes) are, too.
- Can you think of an example of when a marketer may want to use USSD (unstructured supplementary services data) versus SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia message service)?
- Think of an example of when it would be better to use MMS over SMS for a brand. Give an example of when it would be a good idea to use SMS over MMS.