Ringbacks as a new Mobile Marketing Tool

Rafat Ali writes about Ringbacks on Ringtonia.com :
Ringbacks are the hottest thing in the mobile content market right now. This is not some vaporware like the music downloads on mobiles (...) For those of you who don't know what ringback tones are, the concept came out of South Korea. Ringbacks are like call waiting tones, only less annoying. Say you call someone on their mobile phone…instead of getting the phone ring sound from your side, you will hear a music clip or a ringtone which your friend who you called has selected. (...)
Ringbacks offer mobile phone users great new possibilities to customize their mobile experience. Reasonably priced it will surely bring in nice revenues with high margins for the carriers and mobile content providers. But ringbacks will probably also become an interesting tool for mobile or viral marketing. Like branded style sheets for personal web-sites ringback tones are visible (or in this case audible) to the outside world. This makes it a very potent viral agent. Rafat writes in his article about how labels could use this to promote new music. But it certainly will also work with commercial jingles from ones favorite brand. Or how about a less subtle approach: using real commercials as a ringback tone, which lets the person who is called earn a few cents for every incoming call. Not a very good idea for the phone of an average middle manager, but great for a very different target group: young kids, who are eager to find ways to reduce those heavy SMS bills... More on Ringbacks: - Article on the subject from BBC News - Ringback Category on Ringtonia
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Ford uses SMS as competition response channel

Revolution Magazine reports about a new competition from Ford to promote their KA brand (via Adverblog):
Launching this month, a range of postcards will be sent to consumers with unique SMS codes on them. Individuals should text in the code to enter a grand prize draw. The winner gets a shopping spree in New York. (...) Usha Raghavachari, Ford Ka brand manager, said: "We wanted to introduce SMS as a direct response mechanism for this campaign as we feel it gives our target audience a new and easy way to interact with us. The immediacy and high response rates we are expecting from this campaign made it an easy decision to use the mobile channel." (...)
SMS is really a great response channel for direct marketing campaigns. Especially because it is easy to use and helps people to answer very spontaneously. Related article: Premium SMS successfully used for TV-Station Campaign
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Mobile Marketing in Germany

In the recent issue of the German business magazine Brand Eins is an interesting report on the market for mobile marketing in Germany:
  • 1000 SMS are sent in Germany every second, 3,333 million every hour and nearly 30 billion every year.
  • Sending 1 megabyte per SMS would could more than 1200 Euro.
  • The SMS-service alone generates more than 5 billion Euro in revenue for the mobile operators.
  • 5,9 million people participated in a mobile marketing campaign from Coca Cola in spring 2003.
Many more facts and cases can be found in the article, which is unfortunately only available in German...
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Seminar: Mobile Kaizen in Japan

During the next weeks the Berlin-based consulting firm Mobile Economy offers a new seminar on the mobile phenomenon in Japan (via Heiko Hebig):
"During their Germany tour (14.10.03 to 06.11.03) with the new seminar "Mobile Kaizen in Japan" mobile experts Daniel Scuka, co-founder of the online video magazine Wireless Watch Japan, and Jan Michael Hess, CEO of consulting firm Mobile Economy GmbH, will explain the reasons for the spectacular success of the wireless industry in Japan. They will also provide strategic recommendations to Germany’s mobile players for the continuous improvement of their products and selected business processes.(...)"
See the press release here. There is also a detailed description of the seminar and the schedule available as PDF.
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Free Report on Mobile Entertainment in Europe

Celluar News reports about an interesting new study on the mobile entertainment market in Europe (via Textually.org):
"The MGAIN Consortium, funded by the European Commission has released a new report on mobile entertainment in Europe. The 170-page report “Mobile Entertainment Business” provides a comprehensive understanding and a fresh analysis of the European mobile entertainment industry and market. The MGAIN project and this report are independent from all organizations and individuals within the industry and market of mobile entertainment in Europe. As such, the report offers an unbiased analysis of the European situation regarding mobile entertainment. At the same time, the MGAIN consortium have a close cooperation with the Mobile Entertainment Forum that have commented on draft versions of the report to ensure the quality of the analysis. The report says hat by the end of 2003, some 10 million European mobile subscribers will own a Mobile Entertainment enabled device. This equals a penetration level of 2-3%. (...)"
The complete report can be downloaded here (PDF). There are also quite a few other interesting papers available from the publications section on the mGain website.
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FlashCast - Macromedia could bring new excitement to the Mobile Internet

I am still a great believer in the real mobile internet. Having access to the web and email everywhere on a cellular phone could really be a great thing. But not with today's WAP - standard: Its usability is as bad as its usage is expensive and to make things worse it just looks plain ugly - like a strange reincarnation of Gopher. But now Macromedia is trying a new approach with bringing Flash applications to mobile phones. At DEMOmobile last week the company presented FlashCast - CNET has a short video clip about it (via Russell Beattie and Mike Krisher). And there is already a phone with a Flash player available in Japan (Btw, why is it, that the Japanese are getting all the fun stuff first ?) Although very little is known by now, it all looks very promising. I really like Flash applications and where it is possible, I always prefer them to java applets on web pages. They usually work faster, more reliable and look much better - especially on a Mac OS plattform. If Macromedia is able to bring this experience to mobile phones, the internet-to-go could finally get ready for prime time...
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Axe Anti-Hang-Over Campaign - a missed Chance ?

A few days ago I was working on an article about an interesting viral marketing case from Axe USA. While doing this, I accidentally saw a TV-Ad from Axe Germany, which ended with an URL. I quickly checked it out and suddenly realized that Axe Germany is also currently running a viral marketing campaign - only problem: nobody seems to take notice !! To promote the new Axe Anti-hangover shower gel an agency called Megacult has created a microsite with an online competition: You can win a trip to Ibiza if you send in two pictures of you - the first one taken during a "hard" party-night, the second one on the morning after. Visitors of the site can then vote for the favorite pictures. Quite an appropriate approach to support the launch of an anti-hangover shower gel. The campaign started in April this year and will end on September 22. Right now, there are just 193 entries. Not many considering the fact that they are running ads on national TV !? I don't know very much about this campaign - there is no press release or any other promotional material available online, which may be part of the problem - but it looks and feels like a failure. So I wondered what Megacult and Axe could have done differently... First, they could have built a less flashier website, which for search engines would be possible to crawl. This might come in handy in cases like "Gee, I heard about this hilarious website with hangover pictures... I wonder if Google can find it...". Turns out, Google actually can: just type in "Hangover" + "Fenster mit JavaScript" and boom - there it is... Looks like the agency didn't bother to change the default title of the jump page and that was all Google could find... bad mistake... They also could have created more viral elements: for instance, the possibility to send around the pictures featured on the website or a different version of the TV ad. That would have lured a lot more people to the site ! But I think the best way to generate real buzz would have been to team up with wireless operators, like T-Mobile or Vodafone, and launch the first German viral campaign using cameraphones and MMS !! Think about it: is there a better tool to take party pictures which are supposed to be spontaneous AND embarrassing than using a cameraphone ?? I am pretty sure, the operators would have seized this opportunity. They are trying everything to push this whole picture messaging thing, so why not put their marketing clout to good use... Any other ideas ? Okay, it would be a bit sleazy, but how about topping the whole thing off with a little scandal ? Something like "...the 25 year old student is considering bringing charges against antihangover.com for displaying inappropriate pictures of her, taken during a private party without her consent..." Well, just a thought !? But the press would be all over it and so would be tens of thousands of additional site users - all probably eager to cure their next hangover with a shower gel !! By the way, can you actually do this ? Anyway, I think the during-and-after-picture-approach was a great idea. But like always, a good idea is just the beginning...
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Power to the People...

The Independent is speculating on why so many high profile movies flopped this summer (via Adverblog):
"No, the executives are not blaming such bombs as The Hulk, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle or Gigli on poor quality, lack of originality, or general failure to entertain. There's absolutely nothing new about that. The problem, they say, is teenagers who instant message their friends with their verdict on new films - sometimes while they are still in the cinema watching - and so scuppering carefully crafted marketing campaigns designed to lure audiences out to a big movie on its opening weekend. "In the old days, there used to be a term, 'buying your gross,' " Rick Sands, chief operating officer at Miramax, told the Los Angeles Times . "You could buy your gross for the weekend and overcome bad word of mouth, because it took time to filter out into the general audience." But those days are over, because the technology of hand-held text-message devices has drastically cut down the time it takes for movie-goers to tell their friends that a heavily promoted summer action movie is a waste of time and money. (...)"
Well, isn't that funny: the movie industry slowly realizes that viral marketing cuts both ways !? Suddenly movie-goers not only lure their friends into movies they liked. They also put up warning signs in front of cinemas when they hated what they saw - at internet speed !! As an economist, I always like to see higher market transparency. It's not a bug, it's a feature ! After all, there is an easy solution to the problem that Mr. Sands and his colleagues are having: just make better movies !! Welcome to the market economy...
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Premium SMS successfully used for TV-Station Campaign

Revolution Magazine has an interesting case study about a mobile campaign from the British tv station Five done early this year (via Adverblog):
  1. Add value to viewers' experience
  2. Promote audience retention
  3. Generate revenue
  4. Develop an integrated SMS and email database which could be used for future campaigns
The campaign, named Movie Rewind, targeted an audience aged 16-35 with competitions linked to films such as Lethal Weapon, Dirty Harry, The Rock, City of Angels and Erin Brockovich. The films were run every Wednesday and Sunday for four weeks in February and March 2003. Two competitions a week offered viewers the chance to win one of nine Sony home-cinema systems. At the end of each movie, viewers were asked a question about what they'd seen. They could respond via SMS, a premium rate phone line or online. The SMS and phone line users were charged £1 per entry. Wireless marketing firm Flytxt was responsible for SMS and email marketing, as well as developing Five's integrated database, while Wax New Media designed the html email. During the first weeks of the campaign, marketing texts were sent to Five's Movie Bonanza SMS database to drive users to watch the films and enter the competitions. A promotional email was sent to Five's existing movie database in week one and again in week two when new subscribers from the first week of the push were targeted too. An invitation to enter the competition went on screen at the end of each Movie Rewind film and via TV ad spots during the commercial breaks on Five.
  • Most competition entrants (51 per cent) responded via SMS, 32 per cent used the premium phone line and 17 per cent entered on the web site.
  • 85 per cent of users entered the competition once and 10 per cent entered twice.
  • In the first week of the promotion, the SMS database had 55,500 names and the email database had 9,181
  • By the second week, these had risen to 63,000 and 12,000 respectively.
  • Overall, Five's SMS database was boosted by 114 per cent and its email database by 18 per cent.
Quotes: Simon Downing, head of marketing at Five:
"We had a number of databases. The idea was to get people from both the SMS and email databases to opt-in to this new database." "Movie Rewind has been phenomenally successful. If you are going to launch a competition, SMS is an integral entry mechanism."
Carsten Boers, Director of Client Services at Flytxt:
"If you don't offer several channels, you are going to miss out on a core chunk of consumers. The important thing is not to be multi-channel for its own sake, but to offer users the most convenient way of reaching them and for them to reach you."
Considering the fact that probably about 100.000 participants have paid £1 per call / sms, this looks like a very cost efficient way of gaining confirmed contacts for a CRM - database.
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