June 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Responses by brands to text messages average 9 seconds

Consumers heavily into texting have an expectation of speedy replies. Retailers offering promotions via text messages are giving it to them, Keynote Systems reports.

A small but growing number of retailers and big brands are dipping their toes into a new form of mobile commerce: marketing products via text messages. They’re connecting with consumers primarily in their teens, twenties and thirties who live and breathe texting.

The concept is simple. A retailer places an ad in a newspaper or magazine or on TV or radio show. The ad highlights a special promotion. To participate in the promotion, the shopper sends a text message with a specific word or abbreviation to the short code in the ad. A short code is a four- to six-digit number that receives and sends text messages.

When conducting campaigns via text messages, also known as short message service or SMS, there’s a need for speed. Consumers heavily into text messaging expect things to go fast.

Online testing and research firm Keynote Systems has conducted its first-ever look into text message speed in mobile commerce campaigns, and the results are promising. The Keynote Common Short Code Study compares the round-trip delivery time and average availability of SMS messages sent to 24 popular short codes.

The study found the average for a text response from a short code was approximately 9 seconds. The fastest response was less than 6 seconds; the slowest more than 19 seconds. Also of note is performance: Response times for some short codes degraded severely during the busiest hours of the day; one short code showed a 60% peak-period slowdown every day, indicating a capacity issue was present, Keynote Systems reports.

The performance measurement and research firm has begun studying text messaging because of its growing popularity in branding and promotional messaging, it says. “Short codes have become a vital channel of communication for companies using mobile,” says Nisheeth Mohan, product manager of mobile.

The common short codes monitored during the study included: Chase, Coca-Cola, Fandango, Google, Obopay, Paypal, Pepsi, Starbucks, Thumbplay, Universal Music Group and Yahoo.

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