What is A2P Messaging?

A2P stands for Application-to-Person messaging. These are messages that are sent from an application to a person, for example One Time Passwords, bank alerts or booking confirmations by means of API or Web App.

If you’ve ever had a hotel reservation confirmed by text, or received a text telling you a delivery’s on the way, you’ve benefited from A2P ( Application-to-Person) Messaging. These messages are not sent by humans, but businesses. They are automated by software apps and make up a huge volume of messaging traffic, with billions of messages sent each day.

Not all A2P messages are texts – but most are. While SMS might not be the latest hot technology, A2P proves it’s alive and well. The number of A2P messages sent each year is over 1.8 trillion, and SMS messages made up 70% of them. What’s more, the market is still growing. Text message confirmations of your transactions, from parcels to flight bookings, are now so common it’s become expected behavior. No customer service provider can do without them.

What Are the Benefits of A2P Messaging?

A2P Messaging allows businesses do one-to-one messaging at scale. If you need to reach out to 10,000 people in the same minute, and need confirmation each message was delivered, A2P messaging gives you the method. And of course it’s customizable, so backend databases – like your order delivery information or flight booking – can insert the right information into each short message. A2P Messaging lets you communicate outbound at scale, without losing personalization options.

There’s another factor that makes A2P Messaging a good outreach choice. People check their phones very quickly when a notification comes in – often within seconds. And the device they receive it on – usually their personal mobile phone – is always within reach. This makes A2P Messaging a great tool for businesses to reach- and engage their audience.

Lastly, A2P Messaging is possible through a large amount of different channels- from Email and SMS to Conversational Channels, and even Voice.

What Is the Difference Between A2P and P2P Messaging?

P2P Messaging stands for Person-to-Person Messaging, and A2P Messaging means Application-to-Person Messaging. The biggest difference between the two is that P2P messages are one-on-one messages send from another person, while A2P messages are automated messages send out via applications or software.

P2P messages are personal messages, where a person manually enters each message. A2P messages are more commonly used for commercial and marketing purposes, and can be sent to thousands of recipients at once. The differences between A2P and P2P aren’t in the channels themselves, but in how they’re used.

The critical differentiators are:

  • The source of the message. In P2P, it’s a real person – your friend, colleague, or customer service representative – composing and sending the message. With A2P, it’s a software application connected to a messaging platform like an SMS gateway. The big advantage, of course, is that Application-to-Person can send thousands of messages in minutes.

  • One-way and two-way. While A2P messages can be automated to also reply to queries (by implementing a chatbot), it cannot 100% mimic a human conversation (yet). Most A2P Messages are one-way messages - there is no expectation for a reply. P2P Messaging is a two-way street and replies are expected.

  • Automated versus manual. With A2P, most messages are sent out automatically in response to some triggering event, such as a seat reservation being confirmed. In a conversation between human beings, of course, it’s a completely manual process, dependent on the time and interest each person has in the conversation.

At its core, an A2P message seems no different to a P2P, or Person-to-Person message, taking the same format and using the same network technology. In fact, the familiarity of channels like SMS and messaging apps is why marketers and organizations find A2P such a useful technology choice. Because people use these channels to chat with friends, arrange get-togethers, and share interesting information, they’re deeply trusted and people feel comfortable with them. That’s a great benefit for businesses – a well-proven technology, with clearly identified use cases, communicating clearly from companies to consumers. A2P turns a well-known channel into a tool with a million uses.

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