Marketing channel

RCS is evolving into a next-gen marketing channel for MNOs and advertisers, research finds

RCS messaging is expected to represent a growing share of global mobile operator revenues and become a vital channel for advertisers looking to improve direct consumer interactions and grow their proprietary databases.

This is according to a new white paper, “Unlocking Multi-Channel Marketing with RCS”, published by mobile marketing automation experts, Upstream, which explores the emergence of rich mobile messaging as an essential part of the digital marketing mix.

RCS Messaging allows MNOs and advertisers to create highly targeted media-rich messages that can be highly personalized to engage and convert users. Performance metrics, including open rates and message interactions, can also be used to help advertisers optimize their content for maximum impact.

“Today’s audience is very fragmented and expects personalized communication. There is currently no single communication channel that effectively meets all of these needs, so marketers have had to adapt to using a mix of different channels to maximize engagement. RCS brings unique value to any multi-channel mix, combining the rich media capabilities of digital channels with the hyper-personalized engagement of the SMS world. The channel’s marketing use cases can only be limited by the imagination,” said Kostas Kastanis, Deputy CEO of Upstream.

Upstream data suggests that RCS is already becoming an essential tool for helping advertisers connect with users on a personal level, posting click-through rates (CTR) as high as 22.2%.[1] and a 37% increase in conversion rates[2] compared to traditional SMS in a series of campaigns across all sectors.

Since 2020[3] and its global deployment from the Google Messages app, RCS has grown in popularity and the number of RCS-enabled subscribers is expected to reach 3.8 billion by 2026[4].

This emerging trend towards rich mobile messaging comes as third-party cookies, once a cornerstone of digital marketing, need to be retired for good. Advertisers who can no longer leverage third-party cookies as a way to reach large audiences with broad but often superficial marketing campaigns will instead turn to creating engaging and highly personalized experiences to grow their first-party customer base.

Compatible with the MSISDN (Mobile Subscriber Integrated Services Digital Number), the unique mobile number of each user, RCS allows mobile operators to verify the identity of subscribers, thus facilitating the delivery of targeted and personalized messages. Global MNO revenues from RCS expected to reach $4.6 billion in 2026[5].

Kastanis, concludes: “It is time for mobile operators to capitalize on developments in the digital advertising ecosystem and play a leading role in it. They are uniquely positioned to do so thanks to their base of millions of subscribers and their “proprietary” channels such as RCS and SMS. Using technology platforms that allow them to run cross-channel campaigns efficiently – and in numbers – is a step towards that goal and will help drive revenue in the years to come.”

Upstream is one of Google’s official email partners enabling RCS, and is recognized as one of the key players in the RCS ecosystem by the GSMA.[6]. In Brazil, one of the world’s largest RCS markets, Upstream is the largest RCS shipper.

[1] Upstream martech platform data. Growth, campaign for food retailers, increased web traffic
[2]Upstream martech platform data. Growth, campaign for MNO, payment plan migrations/upgrades
[3] Techradar, “Google Releases RCS Messaging Worldwide”, November 2020
[4] Juniper, “RCS vs OTT: Why 2022 is a crucial year”, February 2022
[5] Juniper, “RCS vs OTT: Why 2022 is a crucial year”, February 2022
[6] GSMA Future Networks, “The RCS Ecosystem”, Accessed on 20.4.2022
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