Global Mobile Marketing Provider Upstream Sets Sights On US Mobile Operators

Carrier-branded mobile marketing provider Upstream has plans to enter the US market this year, indicating it already generates over $500 million in revenue from mobile campaigns for mobile operators in 40 countries worldwide.

In working directly with carriers, something that hasn’t always proved successful in the U.S. market, Upstream relies on a proven methodology that delivers contextual, value-driven communications to their customers that — according to the company’s primary research — produced average response and close rates that are ten times greater than web display advertising.

“Our work with global operators has reached more than half a billion consumers, and we have learned that mobile is not a broadcast, volume- or spam-driven game, but rather a very personal, contextual medium,” said Marco Veremis, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Upstream. “If operators only ‘touch’ their customers with timely, highly relevant messages that generate an impulse reaction, we have seen dramatically increased response and close rates that drive bottom-line revenues.”

The company has worked with operators around the world to help them promote products and services like premium SMS, mobile Web services and various mobile content, and have found that targeted, personal messages generate far more return on investment than “broadcast” forms of advertising, even when it’s delivered via new, sophisticated forms of mobile marketing that include interactive apps, video and more.

As an example, if a mobile subscriber makes a call and gets an account balance through a message that also suggests how he/she could spend less by upgrading to a new service plan, the likelihood of an up-sell is much higher due to its value-added nature.  In this case, a personalized interaction with the customer generates greater revenue than traditional volume- or reach-oriented mobile advertising tactics.

Taking on US operators should prove different than working with European carriers, for example, which was a question I asked Upstream executives in an interview during this year’s MMA Forum in November.  “There is no difference, because we always operate within carrier-regulation no matter which country we’re in, and it doesn’t cost the operator a dime to leverage our services,” they replied.  “Why wouldn’t they want to leverage mobile marketing to boost revenue?”  While that sounds simple enough, I still see barriers the company is likely to face as they enter the North American market.

“North American operators are capable of sending hundreds of millions of ads and pitches to their customers each month, and our role is to ‘change the conversation’ in how they perform mobile marketing to drive the highest revenue potential,” said Veremis. “In those communications, succinct call-to-actions that can be performed in seconds, not minutes, offer the best chance of success.”