Text Messaging Effective in Reaching Radio Listeners

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Over 5 billion text messages were sent last month in the USA. Spark Network Services' new PromoTXTRAdio product gives radio stations an easy way to offer text messaging promotions to its listeners.

Last month, more than 5.3 billion text messages were sent in the United States, according to "The New York Times."

One company that plans to take advantage of this burgeoning phenomenon is Spark Network Services of Evanston, Illinois. And, its initial target for its new PromoTXT product is the radio industry.

Spark’s PromoTXTRadio is the only in-studio text messaging system that completely compliments all the elements of a traditional radio broadcast from one simple web site. Put simply, on-air talent can easily launch a text messaging promotion with a click of the mouse and get immediate interactive feedback from listeners.

PromoTXTRadio’s initial applications include: votelines; contests; dedications, shout-outs, and requests; breaking news; traffic reports; viewer comments. There’s even a feature that enables listeners to get the play list or the station jingle ringtone sent to their cell phones.

“The USA has been slower in adopting text messaging technology than Europe or Asia where similar systems have been wildly popular for a few years,” said Bob Bentz, Director of Marketing and Sales at Spark’s parent company AdvancedTele.com. “But, the texting business in the USA is really taking off now. It’s no longer just a teenage fad.”

The statistics don’t argue. Growth in text messaging has more than doubled in each of the past three years, according to USA Today. M:Metrics Benchmark Study indicated that 37% of Americans used text messaging in July, 2005. This figure rises to 64% amongst 18 to 24-year-olds. It’s the amount of text messages, however, that is staggering. Of the 18-24’s, 33% send in excess of 100 text messages per month. Overall, Americans sent 203 text messages per cell phone last year, according to CTIA; that may seem like a lot, but it’s still a far cry from the 651 per cell phone sent by the Chinese. Carriers and mobile data content companies like Spark still see ample room for growth in North America as more cell phone users begin seeing the benefits of text messaging technology.

“The reason we are targeting the radio industry is that so much of radio listening is done away from the home,” said Bentz. “Today, people always leave home with two things -- their wallet and their cell phone. They don’t have their television, their newspaper, or their traditional internet source, but they do have their radio and their cell phone. We think text messaging offers radio a tremendous opportunity to interact with its listeners when it has a captive audience.”

Bentz indicated that contests and voting have been the early applications used by most radio stations, but he’s also bullish on ringtones. “Imagine, immediately after a song plays on the radio and the jock says that you can get the ringtone by simply text messaging a short code from the listener’s cell phone. Billing is done directly to the listener’s phone bill and the ringtone arrives immediately. That’s hot.”

Spark Network Services (http://www.sparkns.com) of Evanston, Illinois, is a long time provider of non-traditional revenue to the radio industry through its MatchLink, MatchLink.com (http://www.matchlink.com), and MatchLink Mobile (http://www.matchlinkmobile.com) personals services. PromoTXTRadio (http://www.promotxt.com) is its latest product developed for the radio industry.

AdvancedTele.com (http://www.advancedtele.com) of Wayne, Pennsylvania, is the parent company of Spark Network Services. It has been providing interactive telephone services since 1989 and has been in the ringtone business with its Ringingphone (http://www.ringingphone.com) product since 2001.

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Robert Bentz
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