Ever since the dawn of digital, the notion of 1:1 marketing at scale has been the goal. Now messaging offers us the chance to deliver that. While we haven’t quite seen it done successfully yet, we’re certainly trying to figure out what it looks like, the best way to measure results, and how to finally achieve it.

PluggedIn BD hosted a roundtable with leaders and innovators in the messaging world to discuss strategies for success and what the future holds for mobile messaging. These are the three major things we learned.

1. Brands walk a fine line when it comes to being intrusive.

Stop for a minute and consider the volume of messages being sent right now. There are currently 2 billion active users in the world, with 95% of them daily active users. In total, they’re sending close to 100 billion messages per day. There’s no question that this is a massive space. The BIG question, though, is this: How can brands enter into the space without being intrusive?

Yes, we want that 1:1 connection, but we also must find that middle ground. There’s a contract between a user and technology each time the user touches that technology. The contract is basically this: “I will use your thing if you give me something in return.” There’s a trade of time and effort. You always need to give in order to get.

Right now, beacons are so darn annoying to consumers because they aren’t highly targeted. Think about this: You’re at the Notre Dame game and the mascot comes out with the t-shirt cannon. Everyone wants a t-shirt. But the people who get one are those who have tweeted with a specific hashtag or have large numbers of followers. The stadium has been beaconized in order to drill down to seat level and the mascot is wearing Google Glass. Everyone loves it, right? This is great example of that give-to-get idea. We’re not there yet, but we need to be.

Reflect back on the early days of social media when all the brands were rushing to create footprints on Facebook. These brands said, “Hey, like our page and we’ll give you a coupon.” Of course, now Facebook says you can’t do that anymore. But the concept remains: Consumers flock to a brand because they want something from it. We need to remember that as we move to messaging.

Most of all, we must stick to permission-based marketing. There must be an opt-in and an opt-out. If you start pushing things at consumers when they haven’t opted in and haven’t disclosed an interest, they’re going to run for the hills. When Snapchat started running ads, the first one was for a movie, and the platform created a separate thread for that movie. People who wanted to click could click. It’s that simple. When it comes to messaging apps, you have to remember that these are private conversations. You cannot take the advertisement and insert it directly into the messaging. There must always be a distinct line between what belongs to the consumer and what belongs to the brand.

2. Time is money (literally).

Just as smartphones have helped increase the volume of text messages, wearables are likely going to cause a shift in the volume of video messages. Videos are already playing a key part in how we communicate. But they take time and money to produce (and lots of it). We’ve seen some brands, like Red Bull, start to use Go Pros and drive the cost of production way down. But at the end of the day, what matters most is the message and the feeling that it creates. Rawness can actually be more effective than high quality productions.

You also need to consider the length of the video. Today, with six-second Vines and 15-minute videos on Instagram, anything longer seems like infinity to consumers. Make sure your content is shareable and snackable. As our roundtable put it: Welcome to the world of haikus. (Of course, just because the videos are short, that doesn’t mean you don’t still need to make a considerable investment. Anything of quality will take time to produce.)

But you can’t just factor in your time; you must think about how consumers are spending their time too. A month after Snapchat launched Discover, it dropped like a rock. Why? Because the users only have a certain amount of time each day they can devote to the app. Are they going to spend that time looking at content from their friends or are they going to use it to see what National Geographic has to offer? If you think about time as currency, you’ll give real consideration to where your target is spending it.

The value of time is what makes messaging so important — this is where people spend 30% off their time. So while we can talk about how bad the user experience currently is or how it’s overly disruptive, ultimately, advertisers need to be where consumers are spending their time. Mobile messaging is here to stay.

3. Eventually, everything will be done in messaging apps.

People spend more time in their messaging apps than they do in their social media apps. They’re spending more time on their phone than ever before. Soon, we’re going to see a situation similar to the one we’ve already seen in Asia: app fatigue. In the future, rather than going to the Seamless app to order food and then the Uber app to order a car, we’re going to do these tasks inside messaging apps. There will be no need to stop chatting with your friends. Soon there will be a one-stop-shop.

What else is in store for the future of mobile messaging? Here are a few more musings from our experts:

  • Right now, when you send a message, you end up clicking out, opening something in Safari, and then clicking back to your message. Soon, everything will just render right there in the app.
  • Twitter will likely have its lunch eaten by messaging apps. With iMessage, Apple may be able to be a big player, but so far the user experience is terrible.

Roundtable Participants Included:

Glide: Chaim Haas, Head of Communications

Voved: Valerie Miller, Co-Founder & CEO

Snaps: Christian Brucculeri, CEO

Swyft Media: Evan Wray, CEO & Co-Founder

Keek: Jamie King, Chief Product Officer

Kik: Anthony Green, Head of Agencies

MXM: Tim Doelger, Director BD

WeHUb: Hagen Lee, CEO

Moderated by: Pano Anthos