Michael Jackson and text messaging


mobilemarketing_small.jpgADOTAS — The King of Pop died two weeks ago. Now, that’s not news to anybody, but the way that we all found out about it may be.

You definitely remember exactly where you were and how you found out about 9-11, don’t you? What were you doing when the O.J. verdict was announced? You remember the details when Lady Diana’s car crashed and when Elvis died. And, if you are old enough, you remember where you were and how you found out when John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King were assassinated.

On Friday, I learned that Michael Jackson died via text message. The text message wasn’t sent by a friend. It was sent by a radio station that I listen to. I was in my car. I immediately turned off my Green Day CD and tuned in to the radio station to find out more details. Other than the cell phone, the only other medium that I had with me was my radio.

That’s why these two mediums are such a great match. According to Knowledge Network, 60 % of us have our cell phones with us 24 hours per day. I couldn’t find a similar statistic concerning radio, but the only time I’m not near a radio is when I’m working out at the gym. I have a radio at home, I have a radio at work, and I have a radio in my car.

Just like most Americans. And, the trend is continuing, especially if your target market is young adults.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 18% of all American households are now cell phone only. That means that these households have cut the cord of having a home phone. Why bother?

Like many American businesses, radio is struggling with tighter advertising budgets. But, the marriage of radio and cell phone can help pull radio out of those doldrums and above the din caused by the proliferation of the American advertising market.

Forward-thinking radio stations have been using text messaging, now known as “mobile marketing,” for several years. It started out as a bastion of the promotions department, but has since moved to the sales department.

“Text messaging started out as a promotions tool, but it’s now a sales tool,” said Bret Dunlap, chief executive officer at Spark Network Services which operates 84444.com—a do-it-yourself mobile marketing service that sells to radio stations.

“We’ve had CHR stations that couldn’t get in on the 12-24 demo for soft drink buys, but when they added a mobile marketing sponsorship, they got in on the buys,” said Dunlap. “We’ve had other radio stations sell sponsorships of their text messages and get double what we charge them for the online text message solution.”

Cost is about $499 per month for most mid-size market radio stations. This gets the radio station up to 10,000 text messages per month.

The key to a successful radio mobile marketing campaign is the creation of an opt-in database of listeners. This is normally done through a sweepstakes program. Radio stations often use ticket giveaways to create its opt-in list of P-1 listeners. Then, when a newsworthy even like the Jackson death happens, a station can send a broadcast text message and be the first to notify its listeners.

All text messages sent by the radio station have an advertiser sponsor element. This is where the additional revenue comes in to the radio station. Since a text message is limited to 160 characters, the advertiser normally gets 40 of those characters for its sponsorship message. The largest category of use by advertisers is sweepstakes followed by mobile coupons.

While rap and hip-hop stations get the most response, country stations are also doing very well with mobile marketing as more middle-age listeners begin texting. In fact, the biggest growth area for text message use is the 35 – 54 year-old age group, according to statistics released by the Mobile Marketing Association.

“The hardest thing is to get advertisers to try it for the first time,” said Dunlap. “But, once they try it and somebody walks into the store with a mobile coupon, they will continue to use it.”


  1. haha! very interesting article and i especially like the statistics included (like: 60 % of us have our cell phones with us 24 hours per day)

    i found out about MJ because I work in an office with mostly women, and I get all the gossip almost immediately. Viva la blabbermouths!


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