Check it Out: Can U Believe It: Get $ 4 Txts
Imagine getting paid to send text messages. It seems too easy, right? There's got to be a catch. If not, I'm questioning why I'm not living in a much nicer house and driving a much nicer car at the rate my wife fires out texts to her friends and family.
TexTango, a San Diego-based mobile advertising company, has released a new smartphone app that enables users to get paid for each text message they send. Here's how it works: Users who download the free TexTango app are given a selection of advertiser messages to choose from. Every time users text with an advertiser's banner ad attached, that advertiser pays them — sometimes a couple of pennies per text, sometimes more. The more targeted your demographic, the more money you earn.
With Americans now sending and receiving over 1 trillion text messages each year, it sure seems like the market is there to support this business model.
TexTango benefits both retailers and consumers. Retailers who sign up for the service are able to select which users they wish to target, as users fill out a complete demographic profile before downloading the app.
"Our advertisers know exactly who is seeing their ads and how many times they're being viewed," said Kris Golshan, TexTango's vice president of business development, in a TexTango press release. "In a digital world where there's so much 'noise,' it's hard to get your message out, much less into the hands of your target consumer. Companies using the TexTango portal have the ability to bull's-eye their ideal demographic, providing the comfort of knowing their message is being seen not only by the users, but also by their social network of friends — a true viral marketing portal."
Consumers win by being paid to send text messages. In addition, consumers have the ability to choose what advertisers they want to stump for. If they'd rather not include an ad from a certain brand in their message, they don't have to.
"Ultimately, if there's a certain brand that you don't associate or agree with, you can opt out," says Rudy Camacho Jr., TexTango's senior vice president of sales. "So if you don't drink alcohol and you don't want to promote Jack Daniels, you can just say no. There's never that conflict of interest."
The banner ads are located above the messages, and can be manipulated and customized any way brands see fit — including using video or audio. Retailers can also send digital coupons via the ads, which can be redeemed when recipients pull them up on their smartphones and show them to cashiers, Camacho notes.
Retailers Beginning to Come
As of press time, TexTango's app is available on BlackBerry and Android phones. The iPhone is expected to offer the app by early 2011. TexTango's cash compensation program won't begin until the new year, and even then is only open to the first 30,000 members who download the app. Other members will receive entries in contests for various prizes, including cash, for each text message they send.
Starbucks is in talks to be one of the first retailers to sign up for the two month-plus old service, but there are sure to be many more to follow. With the popularity of text messages continuing to skyrocket, as well as the prevalence of smartphones in the marketplace, retailers would be unwise to pass on this burgeoning marketing channel.
That said, from a recipient's perspective, I'm not sure how excited I'd be to get a text only to have to scroll through a banner ad to get to it. My patience with advertising is thin to begin with — I'm a master of flipping channels while watching TV to avoid commercials — and here it comes invading another space in my life. But advertising is everywhere you turn these days, so it's likely only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace (and accepted) to show up in our text messages.