Tests show troubles with Obama’s SMS play

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Nearly three million mobile users received Barack Obama’s SMS about his new running mate, but many of those who signed up may have gotten the text late – or not at all – according to new figures from Keynote Systems.
The mobile and Internet test measurement company out of San Mateo, Calif., Keynote sent 600 trial messages to the Obama ’08 Campaign short code in the days before the Democratic candidate’s massive SMS effort last weekend, with only about 55% of the experimental messages reaching their destinations within 90 seconds if they arrived at all.
Keynote markets testing and monitoring solutions for short-code campaigns; its online customers include Cisco Systems, Dell USA, IBM Corp. and VeriSign. Inc. The company said it conducted the tests in San Francisco and San Diego across two unnamed “major carrier networks.”
“Based on its data, Keynote believes that between 40% to 50% of people subscribing to receive the VP selection text message from the Obama campaign may not have received the text message in a timely fashion or in fact very likely never received the text message at all,” the company said in a prepared statement.
“The results indicated the responsiveness of the service during the week before the announcement was made on (August) twenty-third was not high,” said Shlomi Gian, Keynote’s director of mobile business development. “When we’re comparing this number to a standard SMS short-code service, we do expect to see 95%-plus.”
SinglePoint, the Seattle-area SMS aggregator that powers the Obama campaign’s texts, referred inquiries regarding Keynote’s report to Obama campaign headquarters. Campaign officials were not immediately available for comment.
Gian speculated that the size, scope and time frame of Obama’s messaging effort may have played a role in Keynote’s findings.
“Users had two weeks to sign up to receive the text message, so this event by its nature is a longer event than something like an ‘American Idol’ campaign,” Gian said. “For this type of voting exercise, I think you have to have a longer breath; you have to keep everything intact for a longer period of time.”

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