Archive for March, 2007

March 27th, 2007

Mobile Ad Mix MediaFlo Puzzle

CTIA officially starts tomorrow, but there were quite a few announcements today.

One of the services that really impressed me was Verizon’s new broadcast video service. I had the chance today to use the new video service launched on MediaFlo on a Samsung phone. I tuned into the David Letterman show on TV and on the phone. The commercials didn’t seem to match exactly, but there only seemed to be a few second delay in the broadcast. Was a bit weird to have it in stereo.

The picture quality was excellent. The content worked well on the small screen. Channels switched fairly quickly. Impressive technology.

The advertising at one commercial break:

TV: Allergies Phone: House ad for CSI
TV: Blockbuster Phone: Ambien
TV: Ford Phone: Ambien (still)
TV: T-mobile Phone: Michelin
TV: house ad Phone: Royal Caribbean
TV: Local spot for home loans
TV: Pizza hut Phone: Dodge
TV: Mitsubishi Phone: Automatic shower cleaner
TV: Local ad Phone: another CBS Mobile house ad

I’m going to have to check in with one of our ad experts about the mix. I “get” not having the T-Mobile ad on the Verizon service. I understand the different house ads (e.g., CBS Mobile). I understand why there are no local ads on the MediaFlo service – yet. The car commercial mix – couldn’t sort that out. Also, I know Pizza Hut runs mobile campaigns.

Looks as if the ads are definitely being sold differently for the TV vs. cell phone content.

March 26th, 2007

One More Reason Wireless Makes Sense

I was trading emails with my friend Timothy in Kenya. He, of course, only emails me now from his Nokia phone. He was telling me that one of the advantages of wireless infrastructure in Kenya is that it can’t be destroyed or dismantled for building materials. I wrote this up in this article on RCR Wireless.

I was at my mother’s over the weekend enroute to CTIA in Orlando, and I picked up a basket made of wire. There was a note inside proudly stating that it was made of copper telephone wire.

March 22nd, 2007

Next Gen Portable Devices

I moderated a panel Tuesday evening on next generation portable devices. My friend Susie did a great summary of the takeaways. See her blog.

March 19th, 2007

Mighty Mini Mobile Ad Network

Today Amp’d and Medio announced their partnership to create an ad network on the Amp’d portal in the US. With less than one percent of the number of subscribers that a AT&T/Cingular or Verizon has, one may ask: “What is the big deal?”

It’s a big deal because Amp’d subscribers crank through an unreal number of page views each month on their way to consuming $30 in data services each month.

The $$ add up on a per subscriber basis as measured by a relative potential increase in ARPU. And, these subscribers buy stuff – valuable target audience.

Aside from the Amp’d deal, it’s another step in the direction of aggregating inventory. To attract real ad dollars, an ad network needs to serve up a lot of inventory and do so cost effectively. Whether Medio sells the inventory itself directly is less relevant – it’s important that they roll it up and monetize it the best they can by allowing sophisticated targeting.

March 14th, 2007

Shortcodes: To Brand or Not to Brand

That is the question.

I posted this blog on Starbucks branding their short code last month.

It hasn’t been long, and they are already creating new ways to use their short code. In this promotion, they are allowing customers to sign up for a free reminder to come in for a free cup of coffee via their short code.

It’s well done.

It provides value: reminder for a free cup of coffee. They also use both email and their web site to promote the idea.

One of the issues with consumers and opting in to receive promotions is trust. Another is privacy. The question for consumers is … who can I trust? Large brands such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, BMW, etc. should be able to pull this off. Investing in branding a short code will pay off in the long term as they reuse with different key words.

Generic short codes or ones that belong to a third party providing infrastructure to smaller entities also have their place. For smaller companies or events of short duration or those companies looking to launch a campaign fairly quickly, third parties can be a great avenue to do so.

March 14th, 2007

Microsoft Makes Mobile Search Move with Tellme

There has been quite a bit “close to source” (news) speculation floating around today about Microsoft purchasing Tellme. This article from the SJ Mercury News even posted a sales price of $800M. With this exact of a number, it sounds like more than speculation.

Without doing the financial analysis, it’s hard for me to say if $800M is the correct price – probably hard for anyone to assess given how nascent the voice recognition/text to voice markets are. Aside from the price, Microsoft has purchased a solid technology company with a high quality product. I’ve used it on Cingular. You can also use the short code TELLM or 83556.

They also have a 1-800 number – 1 800 555 TELL that is an information portal. It’s pretty impressive from an engineering standpoint in terms of how they construct sentences from a combination of words and phrases.

The SJ Mercury didn’t have a lot more from the “people close to the deal” in terms of what Microsoft has planned. It’s not hard to imagine some of the scenarios. Accessibility on computers is becoming increasingly important with an aging population. It brings Tellme into the computer world.

The SJ Mercury also pointed out the mobile search aspects.

Mobile search is an interesting topic that we’ve written a lot about. There is a lot of potential in this market both from the standpoint of licensing software/platform as well as paid search/advertising revenue. Unlike the PC, inputting search terms on a phone is hard. We’ve seen Google invest in visual recognition technologies i.e., send in a photo of what you are seeking. (Imagine the implications in tourist locations). Voice is another input mechanism.

They also extend their reach – Microsoft has a search deal with Sprint. Tellme has at least one deal with Cingular. There are few if any applications or services more interesting to mobile subscribers than directory assistance – something Tellme does well on the phone and Microsoft in browser form.

It wasn’t that along ago that Infospace and FAST announced their partnership. “Bridging the PC and phone experiences” … sound familiar? We’re seeing the beginnings of these silos disappearing.

The report that I wrote this winter about mobile search talked about “mobile search silos.” Hopefully next year’s will talk about how well the integration is going.

March 1st, 2007

MYSBUX: Training your Customers

Starbucks launched it’s own short code today. (See Seattle Times story.)

It allows cell phone users to send their zip code to MYSBUX. (I’m not sure it’s up and running yet. I just tried it and nothing happened.)

There are other SMS services offered by Google, Tellme, et. al. that provide the same service, but they aren’t branded.

One could debate how useful the application is at the zip code level. If you live in a city, there could be
a number of Starbuck’s in your zip code, and it won’t necessarily give you the closest one.

I really like the idea though. I think it’s a great time to be training your customers to use both a technology and an address (MYSBUX) to interact with your brand. Sure, it’s only Starbucks listings today, but it could be a lot more in the future. The short code can support other key words going forward to promote special offers, music, new authors books, new product launches, etc. Advertisers have been posting their URL everywhere to drive traffic online – why not begin teaching them your short code?

May help them to avoid paying search providers for the same service in the future.

Moreover, it gives Starbucks a chance to learn about how consumers are using the technology and to focus on developing a good user experience. It’s a great time to be learning.

I’m looking forward to more creative campaigns from Starbucks. The trivia contest last summer was also excellent. My favorite part was the photo entries.