US mobile carriers clocked $273 million in premium SMS revenue during the first quarter of the year, according to data from market research firm Telephia. The majority of messages came via voting/sweepstakes (47 percent), followed by purchases for downloadable content (40 percent) and chat or community (seven percent). But the purchases made up the bulk of revenue ($214.9 million), ahead of voting/sweepstakes ($35.4 million), uncategorized messages to premium SMS short codes ($17.4 million) and chat or community ($5.7 million).
The figures show that, whilst almost half of premium SMS customers participate in mobile votes (ie. TV game shows and other contests), using the medium as a payment channel for the likes of ringtones and horoscopes is a far bigger revenue opportunity, community even less so. Telephia’s mobile media VP Kanishka Agarwal: “Marketers are experimenting beyond the standard-rate SMS voting pioneered by American Idol and tapping into premium SMS with voting/sweepstakes campaigns. NBC’s Deal or No Deal has translated into a premium SMS hit, generating nearly half of the volume and revenue of voting/sweepstakes entries in the first quarter of 2007.”