Skycore plans to enable retailers and brands to deliver informative and promotional multimedia messages directly to mobile phones via its Celly Space solution, which serves as a messaging platform for marketers.
"MMS [Multimedia Messaging Service] uses the same technology as text messaging and goes to a phone's inbox," said Rich Eicher, president of Skycore. "But instead of being a 160-character text message, the message can have multimedia images, audio, video and text."
Eicher, who announced the product May 29, said a Celly Space message can contain up to eight slides in a slide show format, with unlimited images and text, as well as audio and video content with some limitations. To explain how it works, he used the example of a wine brand looking to provide customers with product information.
"The wine brand could put a simple keyword and the Celly Space shortcode on a bottle, sign or display," Eicher said. "The customer would text the keyword to the Celly Space shortcode and usually receive a multimedia message within 2 minutes. There is no need to go to a Web site to see any of the content. Especially now that MMS marketing is in its early phases, ideally the message would include a coupon or other incentive. It would likely have an impact on that consumer buying that particular brand of wine."
Eicher said a customer needs to have an MMS-enabled or picture messaging-enabled phone in order to opt in to receive a Celly Space message. While he said some older models-as well as newer models like the iPhone-cannot accept MMS messages, he estimated that 75 percent of mobile phones on the market today are MMS-enabled.
Patti Freeman Evans, an analyst with JupiterResearch, said MMS marketing is an emerging area, but the number of consumers opting to use MMS content is relatively low.
"Certainly messaging among consumers is rampant, but [fewer and fewer] are actually using MMS," Evans said.
Although she said MMS currently holds "limited value" as a consumer marketing tool, she added that JupiterResearch is advising clients to collect mobile phone numbers from their customers and start testing MMS marketing with those who opt in.
"With a small number of customers [using MMS], it's hard to tell what the reality will be," Evans said. "It's not going to replace e-mail or search engine marketing anytime soon."
While there is no extra charge to the consumer to receive a Celly Space message, Eicher said any standard messaging rates included in a customer's phone plan will apply. Marketers compose messages using the online MMS Composer tool and pay 20 cents per message sent in the United States. Celly Space operates as a hosted platform and marketers can change their promotions in real time, with customers receiving the most current version of content immediately following a change.
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.