Text Message Advertising

Cell phone users are now able to recieve discounts through a SMS-text mailing list

Text message advertising, otherwise known as mobile marketing, is a form of advertising that utilizes a mobile device in order to send the desired message to the user. Generally, a user will have to sign up to receive these types of message, making it easy to individually target a specific person directly. However, the receiving of these messages can be easily stopped with a simple stroke of the key on the mobile device. Text messaging is becoming increasingly popular, and will continue to incline as more mobile device users become familiar with using it and discovering the benefits it has to offer. Users of this type of advertising campaign will receive text messages on their mobile device from the company to which they subscribed. These text messages may include promotions, such as a certain dollar amount or percentage off of a product, or something completely free when the user shows that he or she received the text message. Other advertisements may include being able to donate, or receive updates on a particular subject. Text message advertising helps create brand, cause, and other awareness for a product.

Reasons For Using

Many reasons exist for using text message advertising. It is an easy and quick way to get a message out directly to a large number of people who are generally already going to be interested in the product advertised. Since a user has to sign up for receiving text messages, he or she will be directly exposed to the message upon receiving the text. It is inexpensive, and used by corporations worldwide. All a company has to do, is buy a number and develop the advertisement or promotion that they wish to send out. This type of advertising also affects not only the user who signs up, but the people they decide to expose it to as well, making this type of advertising effective to people second hand and indirectly as well. Anyone can receive this text message advertising anywhere at any time.


As with most types of advertising, there are limitations to text message advertising. First, one must actually take the initiative to sign up to receive these messages, which requires effort on the part of the user. Some may see these types of messages as “spam” and quickly stop receiving them either because of the frequency of these messages, or simply because they are no longer interested in what is being advertised anymore. To some, text message advertising may be reminiscent or a replacement for telemarketers. For some people, it costs money to receive text messages from their wireless carrier, so they may not want to spend the money for them to receive a message. Other people may just not receive text messages at all, making them impossible to reach with this type of method. Text message advertising, while being very direct, only affects those who want to be affected or informed. An advertisement cannot just be sent to a user’s phone without their consent.
Limitations may include the emergence of smartphones such as BlackBerry and iPhone, however, “only 18 percent of all phones in the U.S. are smartphones” and is forecasted to only reach 23% of phones, therefore making the limitation somewhat obsolete (Vella, 2010, p. 1).



The only cost for the advertiser is purchasing the cell phone numbers from a carrier. However, buy cell phone numbers can cost more than, for example, buying email addresses, “[…]1,000 numbers can be as high as 30$ in comparison to 1$ for 1,000 email addresses,” but some may say this cost is reasonable because of the effectiveness of text message advertising. It is a “high effect for a low cost” (Dickenger, Haghirian, Murphy, & Scharl, 2004, p.3-4).

The cost, on the other hand, may be in the hands of the receiver. Text messaging can be costly if not on the cell phone carriers plan, and may be costing the user more money than they are aware of in the long run. Due to the increasing popularity of text messaging, may users do subscribe to some type of text messaging plan. Most every cell phone available today has the ability to utilize text messages.


Reach and Frequency

The advantages of text message advertising is that it, “not only lets marketers reach
customers where they are, it allows them to engage mobile users by targeting their immediate and specific needs” (Dushinski, 2010). There is no limit to whom and how many times a user can be affected and exposed to text message advertising. These messages can be personalized for the user by way of geography, “firms can identify a user’s location precisely and deliver relevant messages to users” (Lin & Yeh, 2010, p. 250). They can be personalized by name, as well, and can be delivered at any time as the advertiser pleases. It can reach diverse audiences, and those willing to expose themselves to the message. Often times, these messages are forwarded from one user to another, allowing the exposure to the message to increase.



There is no set scheduling for text message advertisements. A text can be sent at anytime for any reason to the user who signed up for the service. This allows for the advertisers to reach the users wherever they may be. Text message advertising is more based on ease of access and reach than on a specific schedule.


Text message advertising, “allows advertisers to establish direct, interactive and ongoing
relationships with targeted consumers.” The behavior of the individual consumers can be tracked by way of “[…] text-messaging platform and mobile-site development platform. […] This is possible because a text message sent by a consumer contains his or her phone number. A unique ID is assigned to that number in order to track an individual perusing a mobile site — useful for segmentation and target marketing” (Feldman, 2008, p. 2). Therefore, the relationship already being established inutility by the user’s interest in the advertiser’s message, the bond between the two can be individualized and strengthened.


According to research, “Nine experts noted that SMS is useful for targeting young audiences – to announce events or support product launches, for example” (Dickenger, Murphy, & Scarl, 2005). On the other hand, because of the increasing popularity of text messaging it is, “becoming increasingly popular with older age groups, whose adoption is often prompted by their need to stay in touch with their children” (Deakins, Grandcolas, & Rettie, Therefore, text message advertising is diverse. It can and will affect many different people in many different age groups.


According to research done at Kingston University, response rates for text message advertising produced an average of 31%. In comparison, rates from direct mail only averaged between 1% and 5% and email between 1% and 8% (Deakins, Grandcolas, & Rettie, 2002, p. 7).


Many top companies have experienced success with text message advertising. AdMob, Eyeblaster, Jumptap, Microsoft Advertising, Millennial Media, and Ringleader Digital are all agencies who specialize this type of advertising.

American Red Cross
The above mentioned agencies were all approached by the American Red Cross, teamed with mGive-Mobile Accord, a mobile application service provider, when a plan to was needed to help aid the victims Haiti after their devastating earthquake. Cell phone users text “Haiti” to the number (90999) to donate $10, which was added to their cell phone service provider’s bill. In two weeks, $30 million dollars were raised to help aid in the relief of Haiti (Walczak, 2010).



Lowe’s uses mobile coupons and text message alerts to bring people into the store. Those who receive these messages and come into the store are counted and tracked when they redeem these offers (Feldman, 2008, p. 3).


Target, the first nationwide retailer to use this type of system, offers mobile coupons to customers when they sign up for the service. Users text the word “Coupons” to the number (827438) and receive coupons which can be scanned at the register upon checkout. These coupons do expire, but are offered monthly (Baig, 2010, p. 03b).


Baig, E. (2010, March 9). Target Customers can Use Cellphones to Redeem Coupons. USA Today. pp. 03b. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database

Deakins, B., Grandcolas, U., & Rettie, R. (2002) Text Message Advertising: Dramatic Effect on Purchase Intentions, 1-10. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from Kingston University London: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/2099/1/Text_Message_Advertising_Dramatic_Effect_on_Purchase.pdf

Dickinger, A, Haghirian, P, Murphy, J. & Scharl, A. (2004). An Investigation and Conceptual Model of SMS Marketing. Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii International Conference of System Sciences, 1-10. Retrieved from

Dickenger, A., Murphy, J. & Scharl, A. (2005 Summer). Diffusions and Success Factors of Mobile Marketing. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 3(2), 159-173. doi: 10.1016/j.elerap.2004.10.006

Dushinski, K. (2010). The Mobile Marketing Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Dynamic Mobile Marketing Campaigns. Information Today, 27(4), 35. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database

Feldman, S. (2008, November 20). The Role of Mobile SMS in Advertising. The Seybold Report, 8(22), 2-3. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database

Lin, C. & Yeh, J. (2010) Measuring the Effectiveness of Advertisements Sent Via Mobile Phone: Implications of the Appeal, Endorser, and Involvement Model and Purchasing Behavior. Society for Personality Research (Inc.), 38(2), 249-256. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database

Vella, S. (2010, March 31). Forget Apps, Text Still Reigns in Mobile. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from Ad Week website: http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/community/columns/other-columns/e3iedc670800607df6cdcc8041897e119e5

Walczak, B. (2010, February 1). What a Relief. Retrieved April 11, 2010, from Ad Week website: http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/community/columns/other-columns/e3i7da84139be87c4e24ed6f25d77e63456