Today at GSMA Mobile World Congress, currently underway in Barcelona, mobile messaging services provider Sybase 365 is previewing its new mobile advertising and geo-location services.
The mobile advertising service for content publishers, advertisers, carriers and consumers features dynamic, targeted, ad-funded content across SMS communication channels, with MMS to follow later this year. Enterprises can also use the mobile advertising service to promote its own offerings.
"With our SMS mobile advertising platform, we will only deliver ads and pieces of content that are relevant and important for consumers, because it's an opted-in format," said Michael Kurtzman, managing director of AvantGo Mobile Advertising Services for Sybase 365, Dublin, CA.
"We're seeing significant interest in using SMS as an advertising platform from companies all over the globe looking for new ways to generate revenue," he said. "It's not just brands and publishers, but also on the operator side.
"We believe this will ultimately lead to better services for the subscriber, because it raises bar on revenue, so companies can offer better premium ad-supported services without having to charge the subscriber."
Sybase 365 is also developing a specific vertical -- a cross-promotional platform -- for financial institutions.
For example, a bank can insert an SMS ad into its regular account alerts to customers highlighting new products and services.
"If you're standing at an ATM, they can pitch you on a loan or a lower mortgage rate, for example," Mr. Kurtzman said.
Sybase 365 SMS Ad Exchange is a new service in the company's AvantGo Mobile Advertising Services product offering.
SMS Ad Exchange offers an Web-based user interface that connects to the Sybase 365 global messaging carrier-grade network.
This new service allows advertisers to contact and target consumers with appropriate and relevant advertisements on mobile devices, according to Sybase 365.
In addition, SMS Ad Exchange offers integration with other platforms, providing a single source for ads and messages to be combined with other mobile Web and WAP services.
Sybase 365's SMS Ad Exchange takes the unused portion of a text message and inserts a text ad in it. Content providers can earn revenue off the empty spaces in their message, while advertisers can target specific demographics.
"The 2009 outlook for mobile advertising is a little grim; however, what I have heard anecdotally is that even though mobile falls into the 'experimental funding' category, there's a huge willingness among brands and content providers to participate in things that are new, even in the experimental range, because we can demonstrate positive results," Mr. Kurtzman said.
"Brands and agencies will spend on mobile -- it's not a huge spend compared to their overall budgets -- and if we can demonstrate ROI, it makes sense for them to push this for the positive growth of their marketing efforts," he said.
"Messaging could be the biggest piece of the mobile advertising puzzle given the sheer volume that's out there."
AdMob claims that it fields 7 billion ad requests per month.
"If you compare that to the sheer volume of SMS, we're doing something like 15 billion messages a month, which is twice that, and while not all messages are eligible for advertising, SMS has 100 percent penetration on handsets, as opposed to the mobile Web, which is like 50 percent penetration," Mr. Kurtzman said.
"Looking towards the future, there's a clear path of progress here, and we see huge growth potential for SMS advertising," he said. "Looking at SMS today, it's the most ubiquitous data service on the handset."
Sybase 365 will be rolling out MMS advertising later this year.
"MMS gives advertisers more excitement, because of its reach and its ability to enable direct communication with consumers," Mr. Kurtzman said.
"In addition to static images, MMS can power short video clips, slide shows, audio and other rich media, which will be coming into this advertising format later this year."
Sybase 365 has also released its new SMS Locator Service at MWC.
SMS Locator Service is a SMS geo-location service with advanced geographic information letting mobile subscribers request turn-by-turn directions for locations closest to their current position.
The SMS Locator Service interface with natural language software guides consumers through the process, providing prompts when necessary and letting them make requests using their own words by supporting abbreviations, acronyms, nicknames and common misspellings.
The company's mobile banking suite -- Sybase mBanking 365 -- now offers the SMS Locator Service, enabling customers to find their closest bank branch or ATM location using their handset.
Financial services are not the only industry where SMS Locator Service technology can be effectively used, according to Sybase 365.
Enterprises, including retail chains and government agencies can include the SMS Locator Service as part of their mobile services strategy.
SMS is still the most effective way for enterprises to reach the most users anywhere in the world, according to Sybase 365.
SMS Locater Service is created using the Sybase iAnywhere Answers Anywhere platform and the ESRI geographic information system service, which handles the complexity of geo-coding by matching addresses into latitude and longitude for accurate information.
Sybase 365 is discussing its SMS Ad Exchange and its SMS geo-locator service at GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Feb. 16 -- 19, Hall 2, Booth 2A15.
Sybase 365, a subsidiary of Sybase Inc., specializes in SMS, MMS and GRX mobile messaging interoperability, the delivery and settlement of SMS and MMS content, mobile commerce and enterprise-class messaging services.
Processing more than 200 billion messages per year, Sybase 365 reaches more than 700 carriers and 3 billion subscribers worldwide.
Sybase also runs a collection of blogs at http://blogs.sybase.com.
"This is the first mass-market geo-locator product, and for the initial launch, it will be employed by banks to provide locator services for finding ATMs and branches," said Diarmuid Mallon, senior manager of mCommerce product marketing for Sybase 365. "There are no apps to install, no data plan required and consumers don't need a smartphone or a GPS-enabled phone.
"It's just with SMS, which is a nice customer experience, because customers are already familiar with text messaging," he said. "When you're out and about and you realize you do need to find an ATM, the last thing you want to have to do is obtain an application first.
"It can also be used by any company that has a store or a location where people want to go to, such as car dealerships or pizza chains or finding the closest Kinko's or FedEx drop box -- geo-location services are a great add-on to SMS marketing or any type of mobile marketing."