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4 myths of MMS

By Cezar Kolodziej

With the emergence of new MMS-based platforms, we need to be embracing the technology as the best choice for direct messaging in the mobile space.

Before we can decide if MMS is best for our current mobile initiatives, we have to understand the capabilities and limitations of the technology. It is time to get the low down and dispel some of the fallacies surrounding this technology.

Myth 1: MMS has limited market reach
Did you know that 99 percent of phones have the capacity to accept MMS in the United States?

As more sophisticated phones have been introduced into the market, there are very few phones that do not support MMS technology.

Over the past few years, wireless carrier infrastructure has improved and vendors have gotten smarter to deliver MMS on all the major carriers. What does this mean to us?

Consider the user experience of SMS vs MMS. As marketers, we could send a 160-character based message or we could send a combination of audio, video, images and long text to the same handsets.

This opens the door to marketers to push more engaging content to their opted-in users such as scannable bar codes, user-generated videos and promotional content to extend media campaigns.

Myth 2: MMS is expensive
MMS has a sordid history with premium-based messaging. That is likely why we associate it with higher costs than SMS. Over the last few years, the cost of this technology has come down substantially.

From a user perspective, the cost is based on standard messaging rates ? MMS is included in most messaging bundles, so there is no additional cost to the end user.

From a marketer perspective, the cost of delivering a MMS is usually based on a per message model with the additional cost of creating content for the campaign.

MMS is a very cost effective mobile marketing option and most marketers are seeing higher returns on investment than many other mobile tactics such as applications and Web ? this is in part due to the low set-up costs and the greater market penetration of MMS.

Myth 3: MMS does not deliver results
We already know that 97 percent of SMS messages are opened, with 83 percent opened within the first hour (Frost & Sullivan, 2010). The same open rate is true of MMS due to user messaging behavior.

The difference with MMS is the user engagement level and the results surrounding the ultimate call to action.

For example, typically with SMS we see double digit redemption rates with coupons around 16 percent (comScore, 2011). With MMS we have seen conversion rates as high as 30 percent (Iris Mobile, 2011).

Myth 4: MMS is the same as SMS
Some marketers believe that MMS is similar to SMS in that the only difference is that users can link to rich content if they have data plans. This, in fact, is not the case.

MMS is push technology and, much like SMS, does not require end users to have a data plan to receive rich content. It, in fact, enables 96 percent of the market to access rich content.

With an SMS link, content must be downloaded and only data-enabled handsets, which account for 41.1 percent of the market (comScore, 2011) would have access. This means that marketers can send rich content to almost any handset at standard messaging rates. There are no programs to download or links to follow to view content, thus resulting in higher conversion rates.

MMS NEEDS TO be the leading messaging technology in our mobile toolkits.

We must capitalize on this underutilized, cost-effective technology to send rich content and benefit from the highest conversion rates of any other mobile technology available in the market today.

Cezar Kolodziej is president/CEO of Iris Mobile, Chicago. Reach him at .