Commentary

MMS: The Other Mobile Video

Flip-phones

MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service, is the mobile medium that seems to be in a constant state of becoming. This mobile channel uses the basic system of text messaging to send a range of multimedia content types to almost any phone that can handle text and some low level form of audio and video. When done well, MMS lets a marketer send a small file version of a movie or TV trailer, a music clip or just an animated rich media graphic to up to 80% of all phones whether the user has a data plan or not. MMS is the same messaging channel used to send photos phone-to-phone. In a recent survey by Nielsen, 62% of teens sent messages to one another with some form of MMS content.

The multimedia unit appears in the messaging in box and plays with whatever native audio or video player the user has on their phone. It is a remarkably efficient way to get a richer messaging experience to a very broad mobile population without worrying about app platforms, data plans, etc. and it gives the marketer the opportunity to get a user to opt in to further messages. Unlike an app, which can easily be forgotten, no one ignores an SMS/MMS message.

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In recent years, MMS faced some of the same challenges in the U.S. that hampered SMS years ago - cross-carrier compatibility. Until the carriers got together and allowed people to send text messages to receivers on competing carriers, the medium had trouble getting critical mass with marketers. MMS went through similar problems, but in the past year or so cross-platform compatibility is in place.

Mogreet, one of the leading companies in the MMS messaging space released its latest statistics of usage across its client base. The company works with major film properties Twilight, TV brands like ABC Family, American Greetings, Fandango, Reebok, Puma and others. According to Mogreet's Q2 mobile video report, it delivered MMS video to a broad range of handset types and carriers. While the Apple iPhone led the pack with 7.2%, the LG enV line of messaging phones have the next three slots with a combined total of over 10% of messages, followed by the Blackberry Curve (2.1%). Mogreet's MMS messages were seen most often on Verizon Wireless phones (37.4%) and AT&T (31.4%), T-Mobile (12.4%) and Sprint (10.8%). Entertainment was the leading category of MMS video marketing.

"It is important to note that basic feature phones are still the most dominant devices among consumers," says Mogreet CEO James Citron. While something north of 23% of all cell phones in the U.S. are smart phones a massive part of the market remains wedded to features phones. There is a natural trade-off when it comes to MMS over app-centric mobile video delivery. The MMS film trailers that I receive even on my iPhone are very low-res and short. According to carrier and device, MMS is limited to smaller file sizes. But even on a smart phone, an MMS-delivered video is simply more insistent and ultimately convenient. It appears in a message box and launches immediately. Unlike the cluttered app world, messaging channels surface themselves on any cell phone.

There is a world of creative possibilities to the MMS channel for video marketers, but it remains the mobile multimedia road less traveled in the U.S.

1 comment about "MMS: The Other Mobile Video".
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  1. Brian Hayashi from ConnectMe 360, October 19, 2010 at 2:45 p.m.

    While many handsets have the capability to accept video, there remains tremendous inertia to not download video, even if the subscriber has an unlimited data plan. Services like Pictela are getting kudos for their approach to the desktop web experience; we similarly await the day when such downloads can take place effortlessly in the background on the mobile phone.

    In the meantime, YouTube in particular has made it effortless to play a video on a mobile phone from a short link, sent via either SMS or email. The user can choose to play the video at their leisure on their phone or on their computer. I believe this feature, which caters to user choice, is critical to ensuring videos are accessible to the broadest array of consumers at as many consumption occasions as possible.

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