Friday, August 05, 2005

Coldplay, bluetooth, mobile content, data protection

I've just been reading about the success of the Coldplay campaign on Brand Republic to promote their new album X&Y and it seems like it has been a wonderful hit with fans. The record company offered music clips, interviews etc to fans via bluetooth at mainline stations in London. And it seems that 13,000 fans accessed the content, some 15% response rate. Great, some innovation at last.

But hang on, let's rewind and just work out how that bluetooth bit worked... Posters alerted fans to turn on their bluetooth so that they can be "discovered". The bluetooth engine is in constant search mode and hunts down devices that have their bluetooth switched on and sends a message to ask them if they want some free Coldplay stuff. And if they click yes, then they can access it.

But what about the 85% of customers who just happened to have their bluetooth on anyway - maybe to connect to their bluetooth headset for example, or for their phone and PDA to talk to each other? Just by switching on bluetooth does not give the advertiser permission to search for every mobile out there and send them a message saying 'may I send you a message please' in the hope that some of those devices are in the possession of willing consumers.

So unfortunately, as far as I can tell, this seems to contravene the EU privacy laws and data protection act. Until customers can filter out unwanted bluetooth messages so there is true opt-in, then I just don't see how this is legal, regardless of how popular it is or isn't, or how well it works. The law's the law isn't it?

Russell Buckley over at Mobhappy goes into it in more detail. This bluespamming thing is something he's been commenting on for a while.

What do other people think? Is it bluecasting or bluespamming?

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