SMS advertising is still going strong in South Africa

SMS messaging is still a key technology for direct marketing and other communications, the Wireless Applications Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (WASPA) has said.

“SMS direct marketing hasn’t decreased in any other market where people have moved to over-the-top services for messaging,” WASPA chair James McNab said during a recent media event in Johannesburg.

The status of SMS as a core feature of a cellphone, and the fact that it is widely available, means it has remained a useful technology – even amidst the rise of mobile instant messaging applications.

On the topic of whether the new WhatsApp Business API might replace SMS for notifications and marketing messages, McNab said “Let’s see.”

He said it is difficult to offer a prediction, as the WhatsApp Business API rolled out everywhere at once. There aren’t more mature markets to look at for examples of how the launch of the API impacted SMS.

McNab said that receiving an advertisement or marketing message on WhatsApp, where communication has generally been personal, may possibly be regarded as more intrusive than an SMS.

“In six months we will have a more comprehensive answer,” said McNab.

WhatsApp Business API

WhatsApp unveiled its Business API at the beginning of August 2018, offering a way for companies to respond to messages from clients.

According to reports, WhatsApp will allow businesses to respond to clients through the API for free for up to 24 hours.

When the free period expires, WhatsApp will charge a fixed rate per message. Prices will vary by country.

Businesses will also only be able to send messages to people who contact them first.

Following the announcement of the API, reports emerged that WhatsApp will start showing adverts in the status screen from 2019.

Now read: MTN to slash out-of-bundle data prices

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SMS advertising is still going strong in South Africa