A Toronto company that's making waves internationally for its low-cost, easy-to-use mobile marketing platform has now launched in Canada."Democratizing mobile marketing" is how Ooober Inc. chair and CEO Kashif Hassan likes to describe his company's onSMS services. Its plug-and-play platform that enables companies, organizations and even individuals to launch campaigns without having to navigate a bureaucratic maze to secure a shortcode, hire technical experts or wait on third parties to make changes to campaigns."It's good for boutique (marketing firms) and the big guys, " explains Hassan. "What we're finding is that companies that have been out for a while doing campaigns are tired of waiting and paying for changes to take place. With our platform, you can change you campaign in minutes and you're not paying tens of thousands of dollars."Users can create, execute, alter and monitor their campaign directly from their PCs. And, the platform can be used on virtually any carrier network; channel partners listed on Ooober's website include Rogers Wireless Inc., Bell Mobility, Telus Corp, Sprint-Nextel Corp. and AT&T.Members set up a campaign with a shortcode provided by Ooober, select a keyword, campaign details - such as voting or a contest - and manage and change the campaign themselves in real-time, with costs starting in the $1400 range. In a demonstration, it took Hassan a few keystrokes and a handful of clicks to create and launch a basic campaign in about 30 seconds. "We host it and run it for you. We give you an account, you create a campaign, you go to your customer," he explains.A recent campaign launched through Ooober by the South Asian Alliance, a university group with 10,000 members across several schools, garnered 4,500 messages within the first 45 minutes. "They needed it for one day, with the ability to change components as interest grew or waned," says Hassan.Paid subscription services are another option, where customers can send premium messages as an information service. "A lot of people watch those late night ads where you can text in for a joke a day. Some guys look at that and think ‘hey, I have funnier jokes, but lack the technical expertise to create a mobile business, this platform will provide them with the tools," says Hassan.The platform is so user friendly that Hassan's children - Hamaad, 10 and Kareena, 12 - will be launching their own mobile business this summer. "I'm working with them to create a mobile project instead of having a lemonade stand this summer. They're going to come up with a text messaging business, probably an information service, such as health tips."Carlson Marketing recently used Ooober's enhanced audio broadcasting features in a campaign for Ford Canada's Edge vehicle. "This feature actually came about through the campaign. You'd text the word "edge" to the shortcode and get a call-back with an audio description of the car and its features."The platform's document-sending feature enables companies to send extensive text and graphical information to customers through a shortcode and email. Hassan cites the example of a recent national car show where attendees could text in the name of the car along with their email address to a shortcode and receive a PDF promotional brochure in their email inbox. "It really has an environmental component too," says Hassan, pointing to reduced waste and printing.Domestic demand for mobile marketing growingOoober's platform is one of the first of its kind to empower small and large groups with the ability to launch their own SMS campaigns. Founded in 2004 as Spherical Motion, and then re-branded in 2006 as Ooober, the company's focus has been on the Asian and U.S. markets. In 2007, it opened a software development centre in Islamabad Pakistan."We've only been back in Canada for the past six months," Hassan says. "A few years ago, there really wasn't that great of a demand here."According to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, in March 2008 there were over 20.1 million wireless subscribers in Canada, sending more than 45.3 peer-to-peer text messages per day. Although statistics on commercial and marketing messages are not yet available, ABI Research predicts the global mobile marketing market will reach $24 billion in revenue by 2013, up from $1.8 billion last year."It really only makes sense to open up the market to small groups," says Hassan. "If you can make it so simple that a ten or twelve-year old can create and sell their own stuff, then you've created something that enterprise can really leverage."