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SmartReply acquires mSnap to expand SMS advertising

SmartReply Inc, a mobile marketing company specializing in retail brands, has acquired mSnap Inc., a United States-based SMS mobile advertising network, in a play to increase reach and scalability.

The two companies share at least one big-name client -- Citadel Broadcasting's ABC Radio Networks. SmartReply now controls mSnap's SMS advertising platform, which it will offer to brand retailers and marketers.

"Our clients wanted a faster way to accelerate their mobile adoption, because they achieved break-through ROI results with the mobile marketing they were doing, but they needed a way to reach millions of consumers on mobile devices," said Eric Holmen, president/CEO of SmartReply, Irvine, CA.

"The strategy behind the acquisition is to accelerate that mobile reach, driving sales and quarterly revenue projections for our clients," he said. "mSnap is reaching 20 million consumers a month without hardly trying, so now we can append our clients to that network and match them to that reach."

SmartReply has focused on delivering mobile and voice messaging services for loyalty, credit and promotional marketing.

Its 220-plus clients include more than half of the top 100 retail brands in the U.S. and Canada. The list includes Bloomingdales, Crate and Barrel, Albertsons and Tween Brands Inc.'s Limited Too and Justice stores.

Founded in 2006, mSnap's SMS ad network includes more than 1,150 radio, print and cable-broadcast media partners and has a potential reach of 200 million-plus mobile consumers per week.

SmartReply and mSnap have tested multimedia campaigns, and they claim that radio did very well when paired with mobile, for example delivering an SMS call-to-action with a keyword and short code over the air. Radio reaches almost every adult in America, according to SmartReply.

Now the company has the ability to segment key demographic slices and integrate mobile into clients' radio, print, TV and online campaigns more effectively.

This acquisition is one indication that mobile has achieved the scalability metrics important to leading advertisers.

"Mobile advertising is entering adolescence in the U.S.," Mr. Holmen said. "Adoption has been picking up from a consumer standpoint and critical mass has been building, but advertisers have been lagging behind.

"Mobile is going from an interesting thing to ?This is driving my brand and my marketing and media spending decisions,'" he said. "It is starting to take off, as we're seeing some action on mobile from major brands."

In 2008, mSnap claims that its network traffic grew more than 1,500 percent. That network combined with the technology and resources of SmartReply could propel the growth of the mobile channel -- and lead to other consolidations within the mobile ecosystem.

Media buyers can track the results of their traditional media spends by adding mobile to their marketing mix.

At a time when the dominating media channels are becoming fragmented, SmartReply's acquisition is a sign of the growing maturity of the mobile space.

SmartReply's goal is to make mobile the most valued communication tool for enabling conversations between advertisers, broadcasters and consumers.

The goal of SmartReply's acquisition of mSnap is to bring quantifiable media to a new level of scale.

"Traditional media needs help, and adding mobile as a complement to traditional media is a natural evolution," said Tim Favia, founder/CEO of mSnap, San Francisco. "We provide a platform for broadcasters, and radio has amazing reach but it hasn't been focused on, so we're using mobile to make radio more interactive.

"SmartReply is doing significantly more revenue than its competitors specializing in retail, they have seven-figure clients who buy every month, in some cases exclusives, they beat their budget last year and they're ahead of their budget this year," he said. "This partnership is about taking all of the potential of what we've built and immediately having a real way to monetize it."