MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) advertising is growing rapidly in the market and is set to go head-to-head with television advertising in 2007 as an alternative means for companies to extend their brands.

Riaan Groenewald, Multimedia Solutions operational director, says the main difference between MMS and television is that MMS allows companies to be much more focused in reaching out to consumers. It is now being offered as a viable through-the-line alternative channel of advertising.
"MMS really gives power to both the sender and receiver.  Advertisers can deliver a content rich message including video, sounds, pictures and text to specific consumers, while the consumer has the choice of whether to accept or reject an incoming MMS and is also able to unsubscribe from the service at any time," he says.
In addition, while planning a television campaign is a long and involved process involving the creation of the advert and the booking of airtime slots, a MMS campaign can be created quickly and provides direct access to the consumer.
Consumers will also be happy to know that their interests have been prioritised, he adds.
Firstly, the advertiser pays for the MMS. This means that even the downloading of the MMS via GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is free, Groenewald says.
Secondly, Multimedia Solutions only delivers MMS between 8am and 5pm, unless the MMS is prompting an after hours event.
Lastly, Multimedia Solutions anti-spam policy ensures no consumers receive unsolicited MMS with MMS only being sent to consumers who have specifically asked to receive information on the advertisers' products.
The other benefit of MMS is that unlike television, it can be viewed whenever the consumer wishes to. This means they do not have to be sitting in front of the television, but can download the MMS and view it when it is convenient. And they are able to view it as many times as they wish.
Groenewald says from the advertisers' point of view, MMS is much more targeted than TV. Before the MMS campaign is initiated, the cellphone numbers they wish to send MMS to are validated with the cellular networks to ensure they are registered for MMS preventing wastage.
Segmentation can be taken further, by only sending MMS to consumers based on criteria including gender, age, financial eligibility, buying preferences
and so on.
MMS advertising has proved to have a 5% to 12% response rate within 48 hours of consumers receiving the MMS. The MMS are also forwarded on by consumers who receive them, accounting for an additional 3% of responses.
Consumers are able to unsubscribe at any time. In this case, if another advertiser wishes to send them a MMS, Multimedia Solutions' platform will
inform them that the specific consumer(s) have chosen not to receive any information via MMS.
"Having said that, we have a 0,02% unsubscribe rate, which shows that most consumers find MMS a favourable form of advertising. We believe this is
because consumers find the experience interactive and innovative," Groenewald says.
With MMS growing in popularity over the last year, around 70% of numbers which are submitted to the networks for verification are registered for MMS.
The system also provides live tracking of delivery and responses to MMS campaign. Unlike TV adverts, advertisers can observe in real time when their MMS are downloaded and how many consumers unsubscribe. If the MMS offers a SMS competition, then the number of SMS responses can also be tracked.
After beginning with sending several thousand MMS a month, volumes over the past 18 months have grown to the delivery of multi-millions of MMS each month, with the networks able to send as many as 1,25-million MMS per day.
MMS advertising can be used across a host of industries, Groenewald says. Multimedia Solutions has designed and sent out MMS for clients in the automotive, financial, cellular, FMCG and eventing industries.