The secret life of the SMS: 4.1 billion messages that nobody sends but we all receive | Trends

The secret life of the SMS: 4.1 billion messages that nobody sends but we all receive | Trends

The occurrence of free communication with texts accompanied by smiling turkeys and flamenco bailongas did not receive universal applause. It is more, for some it did not have any graces of grace because it generated an unstoppable flight in a tap of income more than relevant: the SMS. Not in vain, the launch of WhatsApp and similar applications annoyed a market that according to the consultancy Portio Research reached an overall income of 179.2 billion dollars in 2010. That same year, the International Telecommunications Union highlighted the "growing number" of SMS sent , which had tripled in the last three years to reach the "amazing figure" of 6.1 billion per year, that is, about 200,000 messages every second.

Now, almost 60% of Spaniards never use this service, according to the Household Panel of the CNMC (National Commission of Markets and Competition). In addition, the history of this commission reveals that the exchange of messages between individuals (P2P or Person to Person) went from 12,821 million SMS in 2004 to 1,909 million in 2015, representing a fall of 85% in those eleven years. As of 2016, the CNMC added to its statistics the traffic related to the A2P (Application to Person) messaging service, that is, the one contracted by the companies and the Public Administration to send their clients and users promotional or informative messages, which explains the rebound in the computation of SMS sent, which awaiting last year's data amounted to 3,757 million in 2016 and 4,188 million in 2017.

SMS traffic in Spain

Millions of SMS

"The entire sector has experienced the same reality and the fact that the irruption almost a decade ago of free instant messaging services has meant the fall of the use of SMS in the residential market, although it is used again in the corporate sphere. This growth is due in large part to the suitability of the SMS for authentication services by sending codes, due to its security, immediacy and coverage worldwide ", confirms EL PAÍS Retina sources of the telecommunications market.

But the sum of P2P and A2P does not translate into an increase in billing, given that the massive shipping platforms used by companies benefit from special offers from operators for concentrating a large volume of SMS traffic, so between 2004 and 2017 the national market revenues fell about 85%, from 1,382 million euros to 209 million euros.

Income from SMS shipments

Spanish market in millions of euros

Even so, a study by the Ovum analysis firm estimates that in 2019 the sending of SMS could generate revenues of 300 million euros in our country and 92,360 million euros worldwide, figures that in the coming years would continue to decline to arrive, respectively, at 222 and 73,175 million in 2022.

Perhaps the solution to this fall is in the first great transformation of this service, after more than 25 years without having evolved practically nothing. Thus, united under the umbrella of the GSMA, telecommunications operators have partnered with Google to launch the expected mutation of the SMS, called RCS (Rich Communication Service). It is a worldwide standard that is already integrated in all Android phones and it is expected that soon also do the same in Apple models, so that by the end of 2020 could reach a coverage close to the SMS and far superior to that of any existing chat application.

By the end of 2019, RCS will be available in more than 70 countries, including Spain, and for more than 1 billion mobile phones worldwide. This advanced chat service can include images, videos, calls, geolocation services and means of payment and will be integrated in a simple way with the new virtual assistants (chatbots) based on artificial intelligence, which will be increasingly present in our lives and we They will simplify the interaction with banks, airlines or telecommunications operators. In this context, David Cremades, general manager of Link Mobility in Spain, a provider specialized in A2P messaging platforms, highlights two trends that mark the future

of this type of solutions. The first of these is the SMS conversational, which is specified in the establishment of a bidirectional communication between the brands or the Public Administration and the end user in an automated way: "These are dialogues with chatbots to resolve incidents or manage a certain service without the intervention of the personnel of a call center or of another person ". And the second one is mobile intelligence, that is, the application of artificial intelligence to mass message platforms to detect patterns of behavior and personalize communications in order to adapt them to specific profiles, always respecting the anonymity of the data collected. .

Organizations that opt ​​for SMS to communicate with users are aware of the following benefits of this service:

  1. Universality. "It is a window of entry to the phone in a native way. It works on all mobile phones in the world without the need for a smartphone and does not require installing an application or activating a notification service, "says Cremades.
  2. Security. Being supported by networks of traditional operators, which are duly regulated and audited, the sending of messages by SMS is safer than through other services.
  3. Very little saturated channel. Due to the fall of the SMS exchange between individuals, almost no one receives these messages, so it has become a channel through which SPAM does not reach almost.
  4. High opening rate. As a direct consequence of the previous point, almost all the recipients open the SMS they receive. "There is even talk of an opening rate of 98%," says Andrés Posada, SME Marketing Director at Orange in Spain. Ubiquity of the message. Being a 100% mobile format, the objective of the campaign is always within reach. "It is the most efficient channel to enter the consumer world because today we always carry the phone," according to Cremades.
  5. Immediateness of a direct channel with massive reach. There are no intermediate steps, but the message is sent directly to the recipients chosen at the time decided by the sender. A simple click launches a mass reach campaign in a few seconds.
  6. Encouraging engagement. According to Posada, it is a "perfect" tool to contact the client beyond a commercial campaign: "Remember an appointment or send a satisfaction survey are well received actions through an SMS".
  7. Omni-channeling and integration. SMS campaigns are integrated into any customer management software (CRM) and can even be complemented with other platforms such as email or social networks, enhancing the omnichannel of the message.
  8. Accurate measurements and segmentations. Each campaign can be segmented and measured accurately. "That it be a technology prior to the massive use of the internet does not mean that it can not benefit from advances in digital marketing," Posada said.
  9. Versatility. The service can be used both internally (for human resources, security messages or communications about the company) and externally (notices, alerts, reminders, confirmations, commercial messages, tracking of shipments …).

Who sends SMS today?

Broadly speaking, the SMS P2P service is used by the following profiles:

  • Elderly people who do not install mobile applications.
  • Users whose mobile terminal is not a smartphone.
  • Residents of geographical areas where broad mobile broadband penetration does not yet exist.
  • Users of specific services associated with the automatic sending of SMS, such as the typical "I call you as soon as I can" message that is transmitted when a call is rejected.

With regard to A2P communications, these SMS are sent by companies and the Public Administration for the following:

  • Marketing campaings.
  • Service notifications, such as the status of a shipment: "Your order will arrive tomorrow."
  • Sending authentication codes for banking or other transactions.
  • Reminder of appointments with the Public Administration: medical consultations, renewal of the DNI, payment of taxes …


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