Consumers don't think twice about sending a text, but behind the scenes, texting will get an overhaul when a new standard, Rich Communication Services (RCS), replaces the current SMS protocol. John Duffy, co-founder and CEO of mobile messaging solution provider 3Cinteractive, spoke with eMarketer's Rahul Chadha about the state of the switchover and what it means for marketers. Duffy was interviewed as part of eMarketer's September report, "Messaging Apps and Marketing 2018: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and RCS Help Brands Connect with Customers."
What exactly is Rich Communication Services, or RCS?
It's an update to text messaging. Text messaging is a very antiquated but reliable service. It’s simple and it’s ubiquitous. It works the same way on every phone, on every network, anywhere on Earth. But it’s also limited to just 160 characters. For marketing purposes, it's not sexy compared to the experience of using a branded mobile app with multimedia and touchscreen capabilities.
RCS takes all of the elegance and usability of an app and embeds it into messaging. Imagine all of the functionality of your favorite app available for you in your messaging client.
How can marketers use RCS?
There's two types of use cases for RCS today. There's A2P, or application-to-person. Much like the way marketers use messaging today, you would opt into my program and I would send you coupons, offers, information, etc., via text.
The alternative is P2A, or person-to-application. In a messaging client, you would have a tab for contacts, conversations and chatbots. When you click on the tab for chatbots, you would see the brand’s logo, tap on it and open a conversation with the company.
The current pilot programs for RCS are fairly limited in terms of their scale and the number of users involved, but they're working terrifically. Engagement is seven to nine times that seen on SMS.