Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Differences Among Mobile Marketing Systems

You may have thought from last Friday’s post that I had merely gathered the names of mobile marketing software vendors. Au contraire. That list was based on a close parsing of the relevant Web sites. (And if it’s on the Web, it might be true, right?) Now that I’ve had some time to sift through the materials I assembled, it’s possible to make some more precise observations about what differentiates the different systems.

1. Voting vs. Ad Serving: this seems to be the Great Divide. Of the seven products that seem to be serious marketing systems (as opposed to simple message blasters), four mention voting and related applications (sweepstakes, contests, etc.) and three mention mobile ad serving, but none mention both. I realize that ad serving is a pretty specialized skill. But I don’t see why it should conflict with voting and similar interactions, so perhaps some vendors do both and just don’t mention it. (Note: after posting this, I learned that at one of the ad serving vendors, Enpocket, indeed does both. The others may as well.) The voting vendors are Flytxt, Netcom Consulting, Kodime and MessageBuzz, while the ad serving vendors are Velti, Knotice and Enpocket. It’s also worth noting that Ad Infuse, which is not on my list of seven, is a mobile ad serving specialist.

2. Upload user content. User-provided content might be considered shorthand for all the Web 2.0 community features. You need not just to upload it, but provide a way for others to search for and view it. Only Kodime and Enpocket make a point of mentioning this—which, again, doesn’t mean others don’t do it.

3. Download paid content. This could be anything from simple ringtones to coupons to full e-commerce, so there is probably a broad range of functionality among the five vendors who mention it (Netcom Consulting, Kodime, MessageBuzz, Velti and Enpocket). If you’re interested in this, also look at Mobiqua, a mobile coupon and ticketing specialist.

4. Interactive dialogues. This could mean automated interactions (Kodime), connecting to live humans (Flytxt, Velti), or enabling user-to-user conversations (Enpocket). These are wildly different applications, so this category also takes more digging depending on your exact needs.

So much for differences. Everybody is hosted, although Velti seems to offer on-premise as an option. Everybody can broadcast messages, usually in multiple formats (SMS, MMS, video, games, Web pages, portals, etc.) and receive responses. All maintain some form of customer database to capture permissions and build profiles. Most explicitly mention campaign management and the rest probably have some kind of campaigns too. But Velti, Knotice, and Enpocket describe more sophisticated campaign administration, with workflow and targeting. Those are the same three that do ad serving, which make sense if you think about it.

If you’re looking for truly unique claims, Enpocket is still the only one I’ve seen that describes an automated scoring system to predict customer behavior, and Knotice is the only one positioning itself as multichannel in the sense of including Web and email as well as mobile.

Let me stress yet again that these are just impressions based on vendor Web sites. If you have a specific requirement, it’s definitely best to query all the vendors directly to see whether (and, more importantly, how) they support it.

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