The mobile advertising space got white hot last year when Google agreed to purchase AdMob and Apple bought Quattro Wireless. Suddenly all eyes were on 4INFO, which has been described as the AdMob of SMS. They dominate that space, and the service is doubling in size every quarter now.
I interviewed CEO Zaw Thet in February to better understand the 4INFO business. 4INFO offers customers a publishing platform, which is tools to manage SMS subscribers and send them content. They also run an ad network for SMS ads, and a SMS gateway to handle the carrier relationships and charges. 4INFO’s larger publishers pay as much as $15,000 per month to use the platform. Those publishers can run their own ads, or use 4INFO’s ads with a revenue split (self service customers have no choice but to accept 4INFO’s ads).
At the time of the interview, just three months ago, 4INFO was sending about 200 million text messages per month. That will be 500 million/month by June, Thet tells me, based on growth from new publisher products and international expansion. And that doesn’t include traffic from mobile display ads, a new product 4INFO launched in December 2009.
The company has hired two new senior executive to help handle the growth, says Thet. Julie Shumaker has joined as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Rob DeMillo, who is also currently the CTO of Revision3 (he will become a technical advisor to Revision3).
Thet says that DeMillo and Shumaker signal 4INFO’s intention to be more than the “King of SMS” (as I labelled them). “DeMillo is clearly all things mobile advertising (Third Screen Media, mQube, Transpera run the gambit from mobile display to messaging to video) not just SMS, and Shumaker is a digital advertising pioneer, as the first to launch games as an advertising vehicle at EA,” says Thet.