Monday, June 24, 2024

    EDITORIAL Let’s get engaged!

    Everyone wants to get engaged and brands, retailers and merchants are all getting down on one knee in front of consumers to propose. And instead of a ring, they have opened the box marked ‘Telemedia’.

    Engagement between brands and consumers has never been more vital. With the global economy still stuttering, anyone selling anything has an uphill struggle to get customer eyeballs and wallets pointing in their direction. The issue is compounded by there being so many ways to engage consumers that they become spoiled for choice or simply overwhelmed.

    For media companies this has become an increasing problem. Streaming services, news feeds and social media have all taken a big slice of the ‘traditional’ media market, with readers hungry for say celebrity news turning to social rather than the mags and sites of old. Likewise, longer form content – even about celebs – is the latest trope being exploited by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Witness Netflix and its recent releases of celebrity documentaries on David Beckham, Sly Stallone, Robbie Williams and Wham!.

    With this in mind, a new company has emerged in the telemedia sector to help redress this balance. Viveri has brought together the engagement prowess of Spoke with the payments platforms of Dynamic Mobile Billing to create an interaction and engagement service for media companies and charities that aims to bring media companies the means to be more engaging, with offers that can be directly monetised.

    “It’s very much what the media market wants and needs,” says Gary Corbett, chairman of DMB and Viveri’s major shareholder. “They need to go further than just competitions, they have all that content to monetise, which they can do through interaction. They can up- and cross-sell and expand their revenue and capabilities.”

    The move also helps expand the reach of carrier billing, believes Corbett. “It allows media companies and charities that are already using DCB to expand how they use it and what they use it for,” he says.

    The move exemplifies the wider trend seen in the telemedia sector for consolidation. We here at Telemedia Towers have for several years now espoused the aggregation of services to better serve businesses and consumers. As technologies such as customer engagement and interaction have improved and expanded across verticals, the need to offer a more cohesive set of services has grown. The launch of Viveri vindicates this.

    Interestingly, the message has certainly reached the other side of the telemedia industry, with messaging platforms also shifting to drive better levels of engagement. While media companies are looking to reach out and monetise their audience in new ways, all businesses are driving towards to personalised interaction and engagement to create user experiences that reach across the entire customer journey from marketing to sales to customer service to re-engagement.

    This has long been done using email, but increasingly businesses across all verticals are starting to see the power of SMS and other messaging tools to deliver all or part of this pan-customer-journey engagement.

    SMS is currently used by just a fraction of businesses for marketing and engagement, and already it is a multi-billion dollar slice of the messaging business. Imagine what it could do once all businesses start to use it?

    This is something that MNOs seem surprisingly reluctant to capitalise on – a stance that is likely to come back to bite them. OTT messaging services – not least WhatsApp and Telegram, depending on where in the world you are – are already taking a small, but significant slice of this interaction market. Infobip this week has upped its involvement with WhatsApp, for example, to offer end-to-end engagement-to-purchase journeys using WhatsApp Business. This is a significant step up for WhatsApp Business and steals a march on SMS and the much under-used RCS, creating the kind of soup-to-nuts offering that businesses are starting to look very seriously at. The parallels between what it offers the wider business market and what Viveri is doing to media, entertainment and charity companies are clear.

    SMS is on the bring of losing its hegemony over this fledgling market. MNOs are starting to lose money on SMS – to the tune of $3bn a year, according to one report – thanks to artificial inflation of traffic (AIT) and SMS pumping eroding the ‘quality’ of SMS as a service to businesses.

    SMS is still way out in front of all other messaging channels for driving engagement – and it still offers MNOs some really lucrative existing and new opportunities – but unless care is taken over how it is used, its dominance could start to falter.

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