Monday, January 30, 2006

Text messaging continues to grow

The UK public's fascination for text messaging has not gone away. According to the MDA (Mobile Data Association), the average number of text messages sent daily in December was 100 million. If you consider that the UK population is @ 59m, very small children and people with big thumbs aren't texting, and some people just don't like to text much, that's a lot of text messages per person every day. Note that this figure does not include any commercial messaging - just peer to peer. [If you go to the MDA press room page, you'll see the link for the full press release.]

In the same week that the MDA released its figures, Brand Republic also reports that Virgin Radio is claiming Christian O'Connell's new breakfast show as a huge success after receiving more than 20,000 text messages during the first two hours of yesterday's debut show -- more than the station normally receives in a day.

And with all this text messaging going on, please take heed of the Philippino sign and avoid texting while driving!

Tom Baker is Britain's Voice of Text

Little Britain and former Doctor Who star, Tom Baker, is to become the voice of BT's text to voice service. From the end of January 2006, Tom will be the voice you hear when you send a text message to a landline. It seems he took 11 days to record all possible sounds in the English language and he'll even be able to translate "gr8" to "great" and "xx" to "kiss kiss" and "xxxx" to 'lots of kisses'.

Via BrandRepublic.
The image is of Tom Baker in his Dr Who days from The Official Tom Baker website.

Friday, January 13, 2006 interview

I'm being interviewed on Thursday 19th January 2006 by the guys over at which I'm very excited about.

As preparation, they've asked me to come up with some frequently asked questions. Well that's easy enough for me to do. But I thought if any of you readers out there had any questions about mobile marketing then I'd be pleased to include them where possible. Or if there are topics that you think I should cover in the interview, that you think other people might be interested in, then let me know that too.

Please post your questions in the comments section or email me - helen [at] beepmarketing [dot] com

BBC World Service: Human behaviour and mobile phones

Here's the link to the second part of the BBC World Service's 2 parter on mobile phones. In the second part, Nick Rankin looks at human behaviour in relation to the software and hardware of mobile phones, and how the devices have managed to blur the boundaries of private and public, real and virtual. There are interviews from all around the world. Well worth a listen.

Friday, January 06, 2006

BBC World Service programme about mobile phones

I happened to be awake the other night at some unearthly hour and caught this interesting radio programme on the BBC World Service all about mobile phones. In the first of two programmes, Nick Rankin explores the history of this technology, how the mobile is changing the lives of the poor, and questions just how safe and secure our mobile phone conversations are.

It's well worth a listen. I particularly liked the security guy telling us how we shouldn't use any kind of telephone - mobile or otherwise - if we didn't want to be overheard. Unfortunately the programme is only available on BBC radio player rather than a podcast so I'm not sure how long it will be live so catch it now while you can.

Ever wondered where Pete Doherty's Live 8 hat got to?

Well here it is... Mike, you kept that one quiet. Well caught!

Mobile Marketing hits Botswana at Yarona FM

It seems that mobile marketing is now a reality in Botswana of all places. Yarona FM, the country's leading radio station, with a core listener aged 16 to 30, is using text messaging to create an interactive radio experience. Services include being able to send in your feedback, listener surveys, quizzes, give-aways, dedications and voting.

The reasons cited for using mobile marketing in this instance seems to be customer engagement, convenience and immediacy. Mr Dumi Lopang, Yarona FM's Station Manager tells us "It allows the radio station to interact more intimately with its listeners and therefore getting value input about things like programming, whilst creating an additional revenue stream for the radio station."

So it seems to me it's about positioning (youth is their target market and they want to be seen as hip and first to market), about marketing (in that they're interested in what their listeners views are) but more importantly I suspect about creating a new revenue stream. The article doesn't tell us which of the services will be premium rate and what that actually means in Botswana. I'd be very interested to know. So if anyone can shed any light on this, please do share it with the readers here.


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.

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Starsight Project to be trialled in Scotland

Very exciting news! Starsight is going to be trialled in Scotland at the University of Abertay. There will be 6 smart lamposts installed initially with plans for up to 4000 more as part of the University's student village that's being built to give the students access to both street lighting and free wifi.

If you don't know about the Starsight Project already, it's an ingenious, award winning idea which I've blogged about before here and here (where there's a link to a detailed FT article by Mike Butcher on the topic). The basic premise is that you have a solar powered lampost with additional wifi without the need for lots of cabling and physical infrastructure. The posts will even charge when it is overcast (which is probably essential in Scotland!).

I'm waiting to hear a bit more about the Scottish project from Steve Flaherty and the Kolam Partnership guys. So if I hear anything interesting that's not covered in the BBC article, I'll post it here. And fingers crossed the project is a roaring success.

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