Thursday, January 05, 2006

Participation TV as part of the mobile marketing mix

Here’s the next one in my ‘Top Twenty Mobile Marketing Applications’ also featured in this week's Mobile Marketing Magazine.

Participation TV as part of the mobile marketing mix

Unless you *never* watch television in the UK, then you must have seen programmes incorporating text messaging as an intrinsic part of the television programme. That might be for voting (such as Big Brother, X Factor and even last night’s British Comedy Awards). This has been a nice money spinner for the broadcasters and network operators alike as the figures below show. If you imagine that each vote costs a minimum of 25p + your standard text charge. And the broadcaster is probably getting back @ 11p each (because of the high volumes), the numbers soon add up.

• Big Brother 5 - 10m+
• I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here - 10m+
• X-Factor - 5.4m • Big Brother 3 - 5.3m
• Big Brother 4 - 3.1m
• Fame Academy 2 - 1.6m
• Eurosong 2002 - 700k

Source: Data Association

This is all well and good, but there’s a massive missed opportunity here. On the rare occasions that I have voted on TV or sent my comment in to a TV or radio show, I’ve had the most paltry reply (if I’ve had a reply at all that is). And all this reply message does is confirm my vote. It doesn’t ask me to opt-in to a database, it doesn’t ask me for any feedback, it just assumes [probably] that I’m a fan of Big Brother, ergo, I must be male or female between the ages of 16 and 30. You’d think the broadcaster (and advertiser for that matter) would be interested in knowing *a lot* more about its viewers.

There are other campaigns going on though in TV land… GMTV/This Morning/Richard and Judy etc regularly run premium rate competitions for a chance to win cash or a holiday. These usually ask a very simple question with an A/B/C answer and you pay £1 to £1.50 + your usual standard text rate.

And at last, this year, we’re beginning to see more interesting ways of interacting with consumers via mobile leveraging the popularity of key TV shows. The BBC is the trailblazer in this respect by offering free mobile games to support it’s programme, Spooks which I wrote about here . And although they’re giving the game away free, they warn you that it could cost you up to £2 in data charges from your network operator for the full game experience. Hmm.

We’re also seeing wap sites supporting youth programming in particular. So for Channel 4’s Totally Frank , you can see exclusive mobile episodes (or mobisodes) and download pictures of the girls.

The SMS link to access the wapsite is free and accessible for all users except Three. But you pay to view the video clips and they’re using Bango for billing. But what price that video clip is, I have no idea. I didn’t sign up as a Bango user as I was worried I might be charged a lot of money. Nowhere could I see how much the video clip was before paying for it. There is no mention of price until you get to ‘Download this Video’. You’re then given an option to read the Terms and Conditions (no mention of a specific price in there either and way too many pages for comfortable reading).

I wonder how hard it would be to put ‘Download this video for £x?' And I wonder if this pricing strategy has had an effect on the number of downloads they’ve actually sold? I’m guessing many people get as far as ‘download this video’ but as soon as they can’t find out how much the video is they simply exit the browser altogether. To view it for yourself, text MOBILE to 83188 (UK only).

So this is another case of a company *nearly* getting it right in mobile marketing. 10/10 for creating mobile specific content and the wapsite to go with it.

0/10 marks for not making the pricing clear. I’m not suggesting that all mobile content should be free. But if you are charging customers, then just make it easy for them and tell them how much you're charging – especially when you’re appealing to predominantly under 18s.

0/10 marks for data opt-in (there wasn't one) or finding out about the audience.

0/10 marks for not interacting with users and getting them more involved with the characters. Maybe a simple voting mechanism, an opt-in message for further info (which can be advertiser sponsored), or simply a tell us your feedback would be enough?

I guess they need BeepMarketing to help them make this a more rounded proposition ;-) Channel 4, you know where I am ...

Copyright Helen Keegan 2005. All rights reserved.

tags: & & & & & & &


  1. TV stations also use text messaging to send news alerts as do other media. They could promote this service and do polling during a news broadcast using the same short code.
    Here is one example of a tv station doing the news alerts.

  2. Thank you for pointing this campaign out. It seems like a good initiative. The barrier to success would be if it was a great hit and the fact that the service was free, could end up costing a lot of money unless sponsors were found.

  3. Anonymous7:59 am GMT

    I agree fully. It is a shame that we see so much "fire and forget" SMS services and so few rich services which incorporate useful information in the return message.

    As an employee of I must maybe accept some of the blame the technical community has of not being able to explain the required technology and possibilites that exist to the broadcasters. I know that there are other companies out there in addition to us, which provide the Participation TV tools required, and solid mobile marketing tools as well - which could enable these rich services, and at the same time avoid the billing scandals seen in the past - and make it a safe environment with services beneficial to the viewer, broadcaster and sponsor/brand.

  4. Also agree with the above, however, I find that the situation is slowly improving;Premium rate messaging is no longer focused simply on making a quick buck, there are companies out there in this field that specialize on quality TV Formats that use interactivity in an properly entertaining way. i.e.; VRM

  5. Anonymous9:16 am GMT

    Hey all. Check out this! It's a really cool website I found.


Keep it clean please. Spam will be removed. And thank you for taking the trouble to read and comment. I appreciate it.