As one of the most popular forms of communication in the world, SMS has become a favorite channel for advertisers to reach out to their audience. Everywhere we go, billboards and TV shows try to convince us that we should “Text MAGIC to 9340″, with promises of goodies like free ringtones and coupon codes.
Now Tagga, a Canadian startup launching today, is looking to help you create your own SMS campaign. The service is currently live in Canada, but is still smoothing some things out with American carriers so it may not work quite yet on your phone (the company says any issues should be resolved over the next few weeks).
To create a campaign, users first designate what keyword they’d like to use. For example, we might choose to use the word “Tech”. From then on, any user to text “Tech” to 82442 (it spells TAGGA) would receive whatever content we’d decided to distribute. The company says that users won’t be allowed to namesquat the keywords, as it will delete any accounts that are inactive for too long.
For most people, Tagga offers two pricing plans. The first option allows users to create free campaigns, but 80 of the 160 characters on each text messages are reserved for ads from sponsors. The site also offers a paid premium account at 20 cents per message delivered which eliminates the ads.
Tagga also has a plan in place for “publishers”, who can use the service to offer their readers a sort of short form RSS. Publishers can choose to include ads as part of their message campaigns, but unlike the standard program, they receive a revenue share from each ad. To participate, members have to prove that they are actually generating unique content, as opposed to spamming someone else’s blog material.
Tagga has a huge market to try to capitalize on: there were an estimated 1.9 trillion text messages sent in 2007 alone. But the company will face steep competition from a number of more mature services that do nearly the same thing, like Mozes, which recently closed an $11.5 million round of funding. To help differentiate itself, Tagga is offering keywords for free (Mozes charges $5 per month), but this plan may backfire if Tagga is unable to handle the rush of name squatters.