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Strategic Mobile Messaging will Transform Marketing

Findings from a worldwide market study by Juniper Research highlights the growing disparity between traffic volumes and revenues in the mobile messaging market. Despite accounting for 75 percent of the traffic -- or 63 trillion messages -- by 2018, Instant Messaging (IM) apps will only generate 2 percent of the mobile messaging market's revenue.

It's easy to be distracted by the recent media hype and miss the key significance of this market development opportunity. The service provider revenue from mobile messaging is not the big story here, and neither is the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp.

I believe it's how mobile messaging will transform marketing communications. Let me explain.

Impact of Exploding Mobile IM Adoption

The findings from the Juniper market study stated that the increasingly high IM traffic volumes are the result of a number of key factors that should be on the radar for all savvy marketers.

Chief among those findings is the fact that usage of mobile IM apps is inherently different to usage of SMS -- users typically send up to 10 chats to convey a message which could be contained in 1 SMS. Meaning, these apps are more interactive and engaging.

In addition to this, stickers, emoticons, images and group conversations all add significantly to IM increased usage, as well as the fact that mobile handset users -- the younger demographic in particular -- typically install multiple IM apps.

"Adoption of IM apps has rapidly accelerated over the past 18 months, something which has led Juniper to revise upwards our forecast for the volume of IM traffic," said Sian Rowlands, research analyst at Juniper Research.

Why Mobile Advertising Really Doesn't Matter

Nevertheless, IM apps are continuing to encounter difficulties in generating revenues for their creators, given the infancy of the market.

The hundreds of IM apps available are taking different approaches, some utilizing in-app purchases and games, others with advertising or subscriptions.

Indeed, some apps -- such as Facebook Messenger -- are loss leaders, and only serve to increase engagement with a company's separate revenue generating app.

But advertising in apps is truly the least compelling opportunity for marketers. Interrupting the mobile app user experience with invasive and unwanted ads is a sure path to failure for inept marketers.

Instead, this is an untapped market opportunity to join in the dialogue -- via creative, meaningful and substantive engagement with mobile app users. My point: marketers that think like a legacy media buyer are not the people you want to manage your evolving digital marketing programs.

You'll need to harness the passion of skilled and accomplished strategic communications savvy talent, in order to take full advantage of the mobile messaging phenomenon. Don't settle for anything less.

Other key findings from the market study include:
  • Mobile network operators are continuing to work on the RCS (Rich Communications Suite) initiative, which has potential to see traction after 2018, although progressing at a slow pace.
  • The Far East and China will generate the most traffic across all mobile messaging formats, throughout the forecast period.

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