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CRTC agrees that industry can self-regulate itself when it comes to short codes

On 21 January 2009, the CRTC received an application by l’Union des consommateurs (l’Union) requesting the Commission to intervene in the wireless services market to regulate billing of text messages from short codes – which is what marketers use for SMS / mobile marketing campaigns.

Based on the filings by Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) and members, the Commission has denied the application.

“In this decision, the Commission denies the application by l’Union des consommateurs requesting the Commission to intervene in the wireless services market to regulate billing of text messages from short codes.”

In concluding, the Commission affirmed CWTA’s position, namely:

  1. The Commission considers that the evidence presented by l’Union does not lead to the conclusion that market forces have systematically failed to resolve complaints about billing of text messages from short codes.
  2. The Commission is of the view that it can rely on market forces,(2) including industry self-regulation through the mechanisms put in place by the CWTA and the CCTS, to resolve complaints about billing of text messages from short codes.

Full text of the Decision is available at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2009/2009-445.htm

This is good news for mobile marketers who rely on SMS as part of their marketing efforts. Having the CRTC step in & regulate short codes would have likely slowed down and further complicated a process that is already perceived to be complex.

July 27, 2009   3 Comments

Updated Canadian Mobile SMS stats

For those who haven’t heard yet, the volume of SMS messages sent in 2008 broke 20 billion. This is up from just north of 10 billion in 2007, which is up from about 4.3 billion in 2006 and about 2.1 billion in 2005.

We are already on pace in 2009 to again double volume to 40 billion SMS messages.

While the heavy users are messaging over 145 messages per month each, the number of uniques has grown to over 50% from 41% in 2008.

Uniques are growing at about 2% a month and recently 600,000 people sent their first text message!

For the first time ever, the number of messages sent through shortcode marketing programs is available. It looks like over 1 billion messages were sent to a shortcode in Canada in 2008. This is in addition to the 20 billion peer to peer messages sent.

Does anybody still think Mobile SMS is not a mass medium in Canada?

April 29, 2009   12 Comments

Canadian mobile market grows by 8%

A new Harris / Decima survey has reported mobile penetration in Canada at 72% – up from 64% in 2006.

This now means that mobile has grown to roughly the same size at the Canadian broadband internet market.  

Other notable highlights include:

  • The number of households with cell phones only have increased by 20% since 2006 – and an additional 19% say they may discontinue their home phone in the next year
  • 69% of households have more than one cell phone
  • Alberta leads Canada with 82% penetration / adoption
  • Quebec is the lowest at 61%
  • SMS and picture taking are the top two activities in Canada apart from Voice calls
  • About 54 million SMS messages are being sent a month now
  • 38% of Youth have sent or received MMS

Atlhough our overall engagement numbers still trail other countries in almost every category, the trend is positive.

To read the full press release, click here.

November 24, 2008   8 Comments

MW08 – Question#11 – Top reasons why clients aren’t buying mobile

Q: What are the Top 2 or 3 reasons clients that are being pitched say they do NOT want to spend media dollars on Mobile campaigns?

A: Over the last few years I’ve spent a fair amount of time pitching mobile to clients and potential clients as the principle mobile evangelist for the company I work for.

Here are the top reasons why clients haven’t bought mobile:

  • Too difficult to engage existing customers through mobile. Some believed that because they had a general opt-in policy for communication with their customers that they had the right to automatically start engaging customers through SMS. Mobile is a permission first, opt-in only medium and not following this rule will result in a program and short code being shut down by the CWTA. Running a campaign (like text to win) to get opt-ins has sometimes been a barrier to piloting a program in mobile because of time and costs associated with taking this initial step. Unlike email, you can’t buy a list of consumers to start marketing to – and you can’t use your own unless you re-qualify them with a mobile opt-in
  • Lack of metrics. Although we can speak to general engagement in mobile, we don’t yet have absolute demographic information on who / how Canadians are using mobile.  Although we have some convincing performance metrics from case studies and other campaigns, we don’t yet have the same level of details that media planners and marketers routinely reference for interweb campaigns. This makes mobile a harder sell sometimes
  • Fear of doing something different. Few people get fired for doing what has worked before. In today’s market, there is huge pressure to get good ROI on all marketing spend. For this reason, some are hesitant to put money into an emerging channel until it becomes easier to predict ROI.
  • Cost – even though some basic / common mobile campaigns end up costing less than an email campaign, some clients have still balked at the price. Some believe that because the medium is still emerging, costs should be close to zero. Developing for the mobile web for example is comparable to developing for the desktop web – yet some believe that because the screen is smaller, the price should be less
  • Belief that the market is still too small or that mobile marketing is only for kids. Although we have good data around how big the mobile audience is in Canada, some are looking at mobile the same way they’d look at another medium that can spray a message to the masses – like TV.  Mobile is not a one to many medium – it’s most effective as a one to few or one to one channel.

Although some of the reasons mentioned above have resulted in some initiatives being stalled, for the most part we are seeing healthy interest from Fortune 500 brands in mobile who are looking to extend their messages into mobile.

Are you a client or work for an agency that pitches mobile? What are your top reasons for not buying mobile?

November 14, 2008   1 Comment

MW08 – Mobile Panel Question #1 – what mobile data is available to agencies in Canada?

Earlier this week I moderated the mobile panel on digital day at Marketing Week. We had an animated discussion and thanks to our friends at Magnet Mobile, we had a “txt your question” segment where we invited the audience to participate in the discussion.

We managed to answer many questions – but there were too many great questions left unanswered.

Over the next several days I’ll post & respond to all the great questions that we didn’t have time to get to. Feel free to comment & provide your own POV as well.

Q: What mobile data is available to agencies in Canada?

A: Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of data available to marketers and agencies in Canada yet. The CWTA publishes a quarterly report with high level SMS usage stats that include total peer to peer by month and YTD. It also reports on the % of unique users. You can get the details at http://www.cwta.ca. I also summarize & publish the highlights on this blog and you can search the archives for past data

To help fill the data gap, the company I work for has started collecting some behavioural /demographic data on SMS programs that we run in-house which we can anecdotally apply across the board. We also track usage patterns from our own mobile web programs.

For mobile advertising stats, be sure follow Admob -they’re a global leader in mobile advertising and frequently report on their own network usage broken out by country.

The leader in Mobile metrics (m:metrics) was recently bought out by Comscore; however, they don’t offer anything on the Canadian market. Hopefully this will change in the coming year as marketers are hungry for more data.

In summary -there is an opportunity for a data aggregator to develop relationships with Carriers and other ecosystem players in Canada to provide marketers and agencies some much needed insight.  We’re even willing to pay for it :)

November 5, 2008   10 Comments

New Canadian mobile SMS adoption trends released

The CWTA just released their quarterly report on SMS use in Canada and the stats are impressive – although on pace with earlier projections.

Here are the highlights: 

  • 1.6 billion SMS messages were sent peer to peer in June alone. This is up from 1.4 in March
  • About 54.1 million messages are now being sent every day 
  • 8.9 billion messages sent year to date – impressive considering last year we had 10.1 billion in total. We are on pace to reach 20 billion by the end of the year
  • 46% of all Canadian wireless subscribers sent at least one peer-to-peer text message – this is up from 42% in March
  • There are currently 442 active common short codes in Canada – used commercially for mobile marketing by brands, agencies, and services

    What was not released but would be interesting to know is how many campaigns are now integrating mobile web with their mobile SMS campaigns.  

    Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of mobile usage data yet available in Canada, but several sources are actively working with representatives of the CWTA to secure access and hopefully provide reports by the beginning of next year.

    October 14, 2008   No Comments

    Mobile adoption trends continue to increase in Canada

    cwta logoThe CWTA released their quarterly report last week and highlights are consistent with year long trends.

    More Canadians are texting more often.

    It will be interesting to see if proposed new charges for incoming texting as announced last week by Bell and Telus will impact overall numbers. It will also be neat to see the impact of the iphone…  will Canadians text even more or will they simply migrate to mobile instant messaging (MIM), Twitter, and other mobile web based communication options?

    I know – it’s not just about the iphone – super awesome third generation mobile devices from Blackberry (Bold), Palm (Centro) and Samsung (Instinct) promise to make the next quarter an exciting one for our market.

    Here are some highlights to the report:

    • 4.1 billion messages were sent peer to peer in Q1 (note messages related to mobile marketing campaigns are not counted). Note that 10.1 billion were sent in all of 2007
    • 1.4 billion messages were sent in March 2008 alone
    • 42% of Canadian mobile subscribers sent at least one peer-to-peer message in March 2008. Imagine what that number would if your friends who return your text with a phone call because they don’t know how to text… figured it out?
    • MMS-capable common short codes were made available for the first time
    • As of May 14th, North America’s first user-generated mobile picture messaging service on broadcast television was launched in Canada
    • There are 25 active mobile micro-payments (m-commerce) applications approved in Canada


    July 15, 2008   4 Comments

    Canadians are having great text

    The CWTA just released updated stats for March 2008:

    1. 1.4 billion text / SMS messages were sent in March alone! This is up from 1.2 billion in December 2007.  We are definitely trending towards 20 billion for the year (that would be double 2007 numbers)
    2. 42% of messages sent from unique individuals – up from 37% in September 2007. This is really significant because it means the same people aren’t just texting more… we are actually increasing adoption & usage as a whole.

    With reasonable data plans finally becoming available in Canada (as low as $7 / month for unlimited on a non-PDA device), we should be expecting huge increases in the mobile web /mobile widgets this year as well.

    May 19, 2008   No Comments

    Today is the 5 year anniversary of the shortcode in Canada!

    Mobile carriers in CanadaIt’s hard to believe that shortcodes for SMS or “text messaging” is only 5 years old in Canada.

    It’s also hard to believe that many marketers are still largely ignorant as to what or how SMS marketing can be incorporated into a multi-channel campaign.

    For those who think SMS is not yet ready for the masses, consider this:

    • 10.1 billion SMS messages were sent in Canada last year – over 1 billion in December alone
    • That’s more than double (~4.3b) from 2006
    • Which is more than double (~2.1) from 2005
    • There are over 20 million Canadians with at least one mobile device now
    • Penetration of mobile is as high as 80% in urban areas

    SMS marketing is already a mass medium.

    Mobile messaging is evolving. MMS (or multi-media messaging) is finally going mainstream. Rogers now has an all you can eat plan for $15 / month. 2d codes are also coming to a broader audience as a few local mobile shops are working on some retail pilots.

    Tonight the CWTA is putting on a party celebrating 5 years of text messaging in Canada.

    I’ll also be celebrating what is to come!

    May 15, 2008   1 Comment

    Mark May 15th in your calendar for strategy’s mobile marketing workshop

    mmw-button-for-phil-barrett-120x120.jpgJoin me on May 15th for  strategy’s Mobile Marketing Workshop at Revival in Toronto, Canada where you can learn about how to successfully integrate mobile marketing into your multi-channel campaigns.

    I’ve been asked to sit on the end of day mobile marketing panel discussion entitled “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

    Well-executed mobile campaigns yield positive user response and increase customer engagement. To avoid consumer backlash, you must understand the subtleties of how to use mobile effectively.

    What works in traditional media does not work on mobile!

    The workshop agenda includes:

    • consumer perception of mobile advertising

    • campaign best practices

    • emerging mobile technologies

    • what works now in Canada

    • the role of mobile in the marketing mix

    • interactive panel with senior execs from mobile marketing agencies and technology providers on how mobile as an ad medium needs to be approached, and its distinct differences from other media

    You can register for this event here

    After the event, join me at the “Five Years of Great Text” bash presented by the CWTA.

    Any questions? Comment, send me an SMS or drop me a line the old fashion way with an email.

    April 18, 2008   No Comments