Whoops! Obama's VP text-messaging idea didn't work out so well

Keynote Systems reports that 40 percent to 50 percent of the text messages sent by the Obama campaign regarding the candidate's VP choice were late or never received.

Stephanie Condon Staff writer, CBSNews.com
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.
Stephanie Condon
The Obama campaign promised us we'd be the first to know. Nearly a week later, we're still waiting. Declan McCullagh/CNET News

It sounded like a great idea at the time: Barack Obama announced that he'd announce his veep selection through text messaging.

A campaign e-mail message on August 12 promised: "Let me be very clear. You are the ones who built this campaign, and Barack wants you to be the first to know who will join him in leading our movement for change." There were just two problems with that plan. First, the Obama campaign chose the traditional route of handing the news first to a favored reporter: Joe Biden's selection was first reported by CNN. Second, many messages never arrived (one of my colleagues is still waiting).

Keynote Systems on Thursday called it a "technical bellyflop."

Nearly 3 million people received the August 23 text message--sent out around 3 a.m. EDT--Nielsen reported earlier. However, Keynote estimates that 40 percent to 50 percent of people who signed up to receive the text either received it late or not at all. Keynote Systems measures and monitors e-business performance.

The estimate is based on 600 tests Keynote conducted across two major carrier networks on the Obama Campaign short code from August 13 to 22.

The late and failed texts demonstrate "the inadequacy of the SMS technical infrastructure to support large-scale marketing campaigns," said Shlomi Gian, director of mobile business development for Keynote.

Failing to deliver the text before the press announced it probably didn't help Obama's marketing campaign, either.