SMS ads should be reviewed: Digital agencies

  • Outcry from consumers over unsolicited messages sent to their mobile phones
  • Agencies believe review can be beneficial in the long-term because

SMS ads should be reviewed: Digital agenciesMALAYSIA’S Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim recently said that a review is necessary for the sending of advertisements via SMS (short messaging system) after an outcry from consumers over unsolicited messages sent to their mobile phones.

English daily The Star reported him as saying that his ministry has received countless complaints from consumers regarding these text messages, especially those of a sexual nature.
So should this method of advertisement be reviewed? And if the answer is yes, would it be beneficial or detrimental to the advertising and marketing industry?
"There is no harm in the review. It is true that there is an excessive number of unsolicited messages out there," said Tribal DDB's chief operating officer Nik Lim (pic).
He went on to say that in the sending of advertisements via SMS, "the rule of marketing still applies,” in that only consumers who have signed up for the service or have shown interest in a particular product should receive the SMS. That is, brands and advertisers should not randomly send SMS advertisements to the public.
DNA360 business director Uzz Taufek concurred with Lim, saying “the review is beneficial in the long-term because if it isn't controlled and regulated, anyone can do it. People can send random messages to random people.”
Taufek also said the review, and the regulation thereof, will be able to protect children who might be receiving inappropriate advertisements.
“Nowadays, even small kids have mobile phones and if the sending of advertisements via SMS is unregulated, these kids could receive advertisements of a sexual nature ... like Tongkat Ali (a traditional sexual performance herbal drink made from the eurycoma longifolia plant) ads for example.”
"Brands and ad agencies have a level of responsibility as well when it comes to sending advertisements through SMS so that we don't cause harm,” Taufek said.
“But there are elements who could buy database from a third party and use that information to send blast messages to random people. I think this can explain the excess of unsolicited messages out there," he added, reiterating that the review can possibly prevent such incidents from occurring.
Lim also said that the review would be beneficial as it will "make the form of advertising more trustworthy, and it adds credibility.”
When asked if SMS advertising should be done away with, Lim said “I don't think so because it still has its relevancy to deliver short messages in a short period of time. If there is something immediate, you can't be putting it up on billboards. SMS gives immediacy.”
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