A new app called SlamAd that pays you to receive SMS text message ads is coming to Android and iOS soon, as reported by MarketWatch. To use the app, you'd have to make it your primary texting app.
Earning money is similar to Microsoft Rewards, which gives you points for using Bing and other Microsoft products, which you can then redeem for some of the company's other products and services, like a free month of Xbox Live Gold.
However, with SlamAd, the receiver of the ad collects actual cash in an account, up to $50 a month. These funds can be applied directly to a gift card, college tuition, or a donation to charity. According to the team behind SlamAd, teens and millennials text an average of 125 times a day and 3,500 texts a month; it's basically replaced the phone call and can be preferable even when the participants are just a few feet away from each other.
Therefore, putting ads into these conversations could be a promising source of revenue, the argument goes. On its website, the company boasts, "Slam Ad is the first mobile messaging app technology capable of generating Super Bowl levels of advertising revenue based on the pervasiveness of its ad placement and a platform message open rate that exceeds 99%."
The cloudy future of SMS texting
According to Bloomberg, the company was incorporated in 2013 in Deer Park, New York, so SlamAd's had a relatively generous amount of time to refine its technology. It's first YouTube video about the concept was published in 2015. The shifting sands of messaging technology may make it difficult for a new SMS app to penetrate the market at this point.
iPhone and iPad users have heavily favored iMessage since its inception, which does not use SMS. iMessage can also be used on a Mac. On the Android side, the popularity of SMS varies wildly from region to region. While SMS remains popular in the United States, WhatsApp is the dominant player in most of Europe, Africa, India, Russia, and South America. Meanwhile, WeChat dominates texting in China.
Facebook has well over 2 billion users around the world, which has made its Messenger app a potent force in the United States, Australia, the UK, and the parts of Europe that WhatsApp hasn't taken over. These mobile instant messengers have their own monetization methods sorted, and SlamAd's technology may not be compatible with their goals.
However, the team behind SlamAd doesn't appear to be stopping with SMS. One of its founders tells MarketWatch, "This app is just the beginning. We have plans in the works for multi-platform use of our patent-pending technology for all aspects of mobile commerce across the world."
SlamAd relies on scanning your text messages
Regardless of where SlamAd would like to go next, there's also the issue of privacy, the perception of which has evolved rapidly in the years since SlamAd was first conceived. Part of the appeal of WhatsApp and iMessage texts is that they are robustly encrypted so that only the sender and receiver can view the conversation.
Meanwhile, the SlamAd app figures out what type of ad to show you based on keywords detected in your texts. For example, talking about pizza may produce a coupon from Domino's. So in order for it to work, all of your texts within the SlamAd app are going through a middle man--at the very least, being processed by machine learning algorithms.
This problematic setup is perhaps why a technology like SlamAd hasn't existed until now. Given how difficult privacy can be to obtain for SlamAd's target audience, they may resist using a texting platform where their messages aren't fully private.
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The company contends that the app is popular, however, citing a reaction to it at the TechDay tradeshow in May. A SlamAd executive told MarketWatch, "The demographic that the product is targeted at went crazy. When the general public came in, they were lining up just to sign up because of the opportunity of earning the cash just for sending a text message. The product caught on really quickly." He says that the ads are "sporadic, short and simple."
- The SlamAd SMS app gives you spending money for using it, but it raises privacy concerns. And non-SMS apps have made deep inroads into the world of texting, often replacing SMS altogether, so it may face an uphill climb.
- The SlamAd app has been in development for about five years, so the company has had a lot of time to perfect it.
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