Guide Sponsor - Jeremy Krantz, co-founder and CEO, Zygo Communications

Jim Brigden, group MD, TradeDoublerWe have been talking about the Year of Mobile since 1999. In the search for a killer app we have been down many fruitless avenues. MMS has had a low uptake, location-based services never happened, and many other acronyms fell by the wayside. As in so many cases, simplicity is key.

Marketers have looked at the mobile channel for a personalised source of ROI. It's a channel that delivers an intimate and individual experience that should be valuable to brands and media alike. Too much marketing is based on what we hope people will do. Mobile has a series of behaviours we can key into. Research by analyst firm Forrester in spring 2008 reported that 83% of marketers believe that over the next three years mobile will become a more effective platform, although they suggested that consumers' lack of familiarity with the format remains a barrier. For instance, only 7% of mobile users trust ads on their mobile phones.

Forrester says that advertisers should be focusing on the kinds of things people are using their phones for in addition to voice communication. Some 42% are text messaging, the most basic function of a mobile phone. This won't change. It's cheap, it's easy and it has become a key way for people to communicate. Moreover, almost a third of people have interacted with some type of marketing on their phones, and this will only grow as mobile agencies and brands become increasingly aware of the power of the channel. We have heard the frequent claims of high click-through rates for mobile banner ads, but in reality, Forrester tells us that it's only around 1%. I would ask as a marketer, can this be justified in ROI terms?

We don't need to re-invent the wheel but we can evolve it. Text is still one of the most powerful ways to reach consumers and brands have an opportunity to provide their customers with new and exciting services above what is already available. Our service, ZygoHubs (zygohubs.com), allows anyone to set up their own group messaging service and provides that group with a single central telephone number through which any member can contact the whole group instantly. One text message sent to the group number and the ZygoHub relays it to all members. Similarly, any reply goes to the whole group, creating an instant and true group text conversation. ZygoHubs is designed to be inclusive for everyone in a group so it works on any network, any handset and is as simple as sending an individual text message.

Research has demonstrated that customers welcome brand sponsorship of the service in return for reduced messaging costs. We have developed an advertising engine that embeds sponsorship into users' messages, which has resulted in a service where commercial messages are less intrusive than old-style push SMS.

So the key to mobile marketing is simple: work with what consumers know rather than what we hope they will adopt. SMS is a proven channel and brands that work within it should reap the rewards.

Zygo Communications