Tag Archives: T-Mobile

Targeted Advertising: Is Mobile the Holy Grail?

There are those who think the subscription model for mobile content is the way to go. There are others who think content will largely be free and that advertising will be the predominant revenue model.

For those of us who are in the second camp, one of the compelling reasons that advertising is alluring on the mobile platform is that it’s the only device that is always on and always with you. And, unlike the fuzzy metrics of a “household,” the mobile phone user is a single individual, who drinks Coke or Cabernet, likes NASCAR or knitting. The mobile phone is the ultimate platform for targeted advertising, a way to address ads to a more granular audience and the Holy Grail to the cable and broadcast industry.

The mobile phone may be ideal in its form factor and shape for addressable or targeted advertising, but still has a long way to go to be a practical player in the game. One of the main reasons for this is that most mobile users still don’t consume video and, for those that do, the experience can be slow and trying. I spoke with Adrian Hall, CMO of Bytemobile, about his company’s work in making the mobile phone a friendlier platform for video and, thus, for serving targeted advertising.

Hall says that their customers report that 30 to 50 percent of their data traffic is video and multimedia. (Group deployments of Bytemobile’s products include T-Mobile, Vodaphone, China Mobile and Orange, among others). The main product is the Media Fidelity service, which enables video on phones with no additional technology or extra clients. “It’s all done from the server within the network we have. we have a software-based platform with multiple different services, from web adaptation to video adaptation, and even a service that filters content,” he says.

Click here for a demonstration of Bytemobile’s Media Fidelity product.

“Most mass market phones can’t cope with video’s intensive, big files,” adds Hall. “Because of where we sit in the network, we can change the format to something the phone can accept. We look at that device and adapt, whether it’s video or web to the limitations of that device and serve the right amount and type of data.”

Of course, using a solution like Bytemobile’s Media Fidelity service means that a carrier can offer new data services without asking customers to swap out handsets or download software. “The chances of signing up for a data package rather than just standard voice are massively increased,” says Hall.

The end user also doesn’t see how Bytemobile adapts to the inconsistencies of the network itself. “We dynamically look at the speed of the network and we will measure and change the amount of data that can be accepted, protecting the integrity of the video,” says Hall. “Even on a slow link where there’s no way to send video, you can and it’s extremely viewable. It makes the mass market phone look like a more sophisticated smart phone.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that smart phones can’t use a boost.

Click here for a demo of Bytemobile and the iPhone.

Now, back to the topic I started wtih: targeted advertising. What role does Bytemobile play in this?

Bytemobile sits within the networks of the 92 carriers it works with and has access to all of the subscriber data passing through, which means that it has the ability to deliver relevant and personalized ads based on contextual, behavioral and demographic targeting.

Click here for a Bytemobile demo on mobile advertising.

“What’s very exciting is that advertising is one way carrier can fund its overall model of much higher bandwidth networks,” says Hall. “From an end user perspective, we won’t accept a bill that’s ten times higher. Advertising is a palatable way to make this affordable.”

Not everyone agrees with Hall’s assessment on this, but he points to a survey Bytemobile did that revealed that 80 percent of users would accept advertising if they could get a video for free.

Bytemobile has the capability to insert a pre-roll or post-roll. “What’s fascinating is that because of where we sit in the network, we see user behavior,” says Hall. “If you like sports, the carrier can start targeting ads of interest to you rather than something completely irrelevant. Then, therefore, the amount of dollars attributable to click-through rate is higher, which helps the industry fund the new business model.”

In this regard, carriers and their partners face the same spectre as do cable and broadcasters: privacy rights. Hall stresses that the data it sees and uses is the carrier’s data, and that the carrier is charged with abiding by privacy laws. “We enable the carrier to use the data that they see anyway,” he says. “That’s a really critical point. We’re not taking data out of the network, but enabling carriers to use it more effectively within the legal constraints.”

Though the reality is that wide-spread adoption of addressable advertising for the mobile phone isn’t going to happen tomorrow, it’s just too good of an opportunity for advertisers to ignore. Even–or perhaps especially–for broadcasters and cablecasters developing advanced advertising strategies, the possibilities of targeted advertising on the mobile phone will be too enticing to ignore.

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New on the Scene: Vringo

WHO: Vringo
WHAT: A way to share video clips between friends.
WHEN: Founded the beginning of 2006
WHERE: A U.S. company with offices in New York and Israel
HOW: Go to the Vringo website and sign up. They’ll ask for your mobile number, and then send you a clickable link. The buddy list, which requires a nickname and phone number, can be done on the website or mobile phone.
WHY: Why send the ringtone when you can send the music video?

Founded with two rounds of VC money and based on 26 patents pending, Vringo is based on the idea that friends send friends video. More specifically, “buddies” on Vringo can send ring-forward and ring-back clips. “Mobile phones have been traditionally designed so that a phone shuts down all applications when a call comes in,” notes Andrew Perlman. ” With Vringo, you see a clip that your friend has chosen for you.” That clip could be user-generated or licensed content; so far Vringo has over 1,000 clips-to-license from Discovery Channel, Universal Music Group, GoTV, Classic Media and others.

For user-generated clips, the user can record a Vringo from the Vringo application (“Record Vringo”), which automatically turns on the phone’s camera. A finished clip can be immediately uploaded and shared with “buddies” in the Vringo community.

Why haven’t video ringtones taken off in the past? “If you think about audio versus video, people have a tolerance of hearing audio over and over again but video gets tired more quickly,” says Perlman. “You can’t shuffle and see something fresh. Think about merging that idea with the best “recommender” on the planet — your friend. With Vringo, you’re shuffling based on the video your friend sent. It really becomes a community that’s socializing around video ringtones.”

Social networking is key to the Vringo business model. “We’re working our way more deeply into social networks,” says Perlman. “We started specing out our Facebook application, but we’ve tapped into other communities. We think a lot of the content will be user-generated, so we’ve partnered with communities such as Meez, an avatar site with 4 million registered users, that you can import to Vringo. People are already using avatars as a digital signature. We’re focusing on the way on mobile it would be natural to share an avatar.”

The Meez avatars move—they can wave and run—and the user personalizes them, choosing skin tone, features, attire. “It’s a phenomenon and a little bit addictive,” Perlman says. “The avatar is a discrete experience, but it’s a platform fo sharing.”

In the early beta stage, Vringo has “multiple thousands” of users,” says Perlman. What tweaks are they still working on? “We’re fixing it to make it easier,” he says. “The key is really simplicity and ease of use. The thing we really really think we’re good at but want to further improve is to make it as viral as possible. We’re focusing on elements of community and inviting friends based on the contact list on your phone.”

Right now, Vringo is free to users. For the future, Perlman sees the financial model as two-fold: the a la carte purchase of clips in the short-term, with “huge promise” in the ad-funded model down the road. That could be a range from a one- or two-second pre-roll, banner ads or even branded content. “Like BMW films, I think about a 20-second piece of branded content that’s being shared between friends,” says Perlman. “If we get critical mass, that’ll become a real part of our business. We’ve been approached by ad agencies, but this is a long-lead thing.

Vringo is expected to launch formally with at least one mobile carrier before the end of 2008 Q1.

Currently, any Internet-enabled phone can take advantage of Vringo, accessing it via the mobile browser where they cnan view, download and send Vringo videotones. But the full-featured Vringo–which includes installed client, automatic video ringtones and real-time Vringo synchronization, is only available on the following phones.

NOKIA
N70 N73 N76 N80
N81 (8GB) N91 N93 N93i
N95 E60 E61 E61i
E65 6120 Classic 6290
SONY ERICSSON
K610i K800i W850i W880i
MOTOROLA
Moto Q (8)
HTC
S620 (DASH)

Coming soon:
Motorola V3xx, V6, K3
Samsung Blackjack
Nokia N75, E62, 6110, 5500, 5700
What kind of network do I need to use Vringo?
You need a network that offers data (most of them do these days) and with reasonably good coverage. Vringo works best in networks with advanced data services and broadband-like service. This kind of service is frequently called 3G.

Right now, to be able to experience VringBack you must be on a GSM network (like Cingular or T-Mobile). We’re working on ways to extend this service to all types of networks.

Users on non-GSM networks like Verizon or Sprint can still use Vringo. VringForward will work fine, but you won’t get VringBack.

What kind of plan do I need to use Vringo?
You need to be on a data plan. Vringos are uploaded and downloaded with a data connection. The better your connection and your plan, the better the whole thing works.

Where can I get Vringo?
For the length of the private Beta period, you can get Vringo from the Vringo.com website. As we expand the Beta you’ll be able to get it from a variety of software vendors. Don’t worry, it’ll still be free.

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