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Mozes Kicks Up Brand Awareness at SXSW

If you’re creating mobile content, you’re marketing it. At SXSW, image001 Mozes‘ pics-to-screen technology took center stage at event producer/promoter C3 Presents’ 10th Annual Late Night bash, sponsored by Playboy. Pics-to-screen technology enables guests to send mobile photos to the venue’s display screen. MobilizedTV had the chance to speak to Greg Estes, vp of marketing at Mozes who talked about the ABCs of mobile marketing in confusing times.

Mobile marketing seems to have as many meanings as the people using the term. What’s the confusion here?

greg_estesThat’s true. If you type “mobile marketing” into Google, what will come up is everything from an ad agency that doesn’t have any technology all the way to Verizon and everyone in between. It’s helpful to draw ‘coarse grain segmentation’ of the marketplace. One is mobile ad networks. That’s basically doing advertising; people will sell inventory and space to take it into mobile. A second is building mobile websites, which helps people to take online properties and bring them into the mobile world. The third is around online direct marketing, or the mobile equivalent of direct marketing. That’s the category that Mozes is in. Some people call it CRM, or customer relationship management, but that means a lot of different things so I try to stay away from that term. It is about a customer community and having an engagement with them, and we do that for sure. There’s also a fourth category, which is mobile commerce or m-commerce. That’s taking your electronic storefront and bringing it into the mobile realm.

Can you describe what Mozes does?

We’re about being a platform for marketers to be able to send their message out to a community. We would further segment that in three ways. Usually most of our customers will do one of these three things: They do marketing when they don’t have a mobile list. The whole thing about mobile is it’s all about giving permission. Some people will run a mobile campaign or promotion or contest, to get people to interact with them, but not to build a list and build on-going engagement.

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Miss Playboy Mobile: First Step in a Global Mobile Strategy

In April this year at CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas, Playboy Mobile announced Miss Playboy Mobile 2008, sponsored by THQ Wireless and Viva! Vision.

With carriers in control of content, adult content has been largely shut out of the mobile content game in the most obvious way. Yet, without fanfare, Playboy has expanded its reach in mobile, in 50+ countries and well over 80 carriers.

Playboy Mobile took a much higher profile here with the April announcement about Miss Playboy Mobile. I spoke with Ed Lang, SVP and GM, Mobile and International Online, Playboy Enterprises and a veteran in the wireless industry, to find out how Playboy can both maintain its brand and meet the PG-13 requirements of the mobile platform.

MobilizedTV: How do you stay true to the Playboy brand in a mobile environment that restricts adult content?

LANG: We do have an interesting split in how we distribute our content. International strategy is different than U.S. strategy. Some countries are more conservative, the U.S. being one of the most conservative countries. Here, they only allow PG-13 content, which disallows even models modeling clothing in a particular way, anything at all sexually suggestive. A lot of territories in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, and the Middle East are also conservative. Europe is the most receptive to that content. They allow streaming XXX content in those territories. The bulk of adult business is in Europe.

How do you promote the Playboy brand in the U.S.?

We knew we needed to focus the brand into its more traditional and aspirational areas, which is the lifestyle side it’s been over the last 50 years, the lifestyle associated with someone who’d buy the Playboy magazine. We created a Playboy experience, with fashion and design elements.

That decision was made a couple of years ago and we initially weren’t leveraging the full breadth of the brand in our digital media. The company realized there were other areas to be competitive in in the mobile space, rather than being pigeon-holed. I realized the editorial voice of Playboy is so strong and we demonstrated the depth and breadth of the brand in the U.S., not just to consumers but to carriers. We felt we didn’t necessarily have to fall in the stereotype; there was no reason why we should accept the brand positioning being set by other people.

How did that position evolve?

About one year into my job we made the decision to go out to the direct-to-consumer market and prove that theory. Rather than direct carrier deals, we launched initiatives relating to consumers. Really, the greatest effort to demonstrate the lifestyle was to launch our model search. Other people had done similar things, so we had the benefit of looking at that and thinking of how we could differentiate ourselves. Last year, we launched an ambitious project around Miss Playboy Mobile, to find a non-nude contestant who would the crown winner.

Amber - contestant and ultimate winner

Amber - contestant and ultimate winner

We crowned her at the April CTIA Wireless conference. It was well attended and we demonstrated the ability to pull off a gender-friendly event with a viral component. It also went cross-platform, starting as mobile initiative and moving into social media on the computer.

Miss Playboy Mobile contestants

Miss Playboy Mobile contestants

Miss Playboy Mobile - the winner!

Miss Playboy Mobile - the winner!

That led to a partnership with mywaves. We’re expanding the strategy of syndicating our content with social media on the phone, so you’ll hear about more deals in this space. Mywaves is Playboy’s first ad-supported, mobile-content distribution deal to handle syndication of a content channel.

I understand you also came out with an iPhone version of your WAP site?

Yes, when the iPhone came out earlier this year, we launched a WAP site optimized for the iPhone that will leverage the 3G version of the phone. That will stay a one-off decision. I’m not interested in optimizing for multiple handsets. But there’s a “thing” happening around the iPhone and we didn’t want to be on the sidelines.

The iPhone site features an immersive experience including “Playboy-on-the-Scene” footage from lifestyle-based projects. iPlayboy contains mobile-specific features such as “Battle of the Sexiest,” “Playboy Radio,” and “Scout,” a blog on sex, dating, and other lifestyle topics. iPlayboy is an ad-supported site which will be upgraded continuously to include social/community involvement, a content storefront, and other feature introductions, integrating the iPhone experience with Playboy Mobile’s PC experience.

What have you learned from the Miss Playboy Mobile experience?

Our three-pronged approach is our mobile internet site; syndicating our content out to mobile social networks, and a yet-to-be-announced comprehensive messaging strategy. Basically, we’ve done enough deals with enough depth to do both free, ad-supported content and premium content, with every type of messaging solution you can have. This will be a big deal for us, because previously we’d only done short code. We’ll integrate messaging between how we syndicate our content out, our mobile site, and how we interact with it online and with social media. The idea being that every one of those places that people can interact with the brand, they’ll be one click away from our messaging strategy, which will lead you to discover everything in the network.

When do you expect to be able to monetize the mobile portion of the strategy?

We’re already making revenue from ad sales on the mobile site. When you monetize what we’re doing across product offerings, we think this will work from an ad-generating place alone. Each one of these three prongs will eventually have a premium area with an up-sale for more premium service or content. What Playboy is aspiring to do is deliver value. We’re in the process of coming up with unique content offerings that people haven’t seen before. We are trying to push the envelope by bringing out things that we believe haven’t been done in the past.

One example is that we recently decided to go into the mobile original content area and we have our first series we’re going to put out. The way we approached it is very different. We figured out how to integrate the divisions of the company, ranging from TV to the magazine and our sponsor ad partners. How we’re releasing it is also unique. We thought about integrated marketing. It won’t be video with a pre-roll or post-roll. We said, Let’s go for integrated marketing, product placement, just like TV, and that’s the elements we did.

To finish it off, we just announced that we’re in the planning stages of taking the Miss Playboy Mobile competition global. I have no less aspiration than attempting to pull off something that’s never been done before. We’re ambitious in the number of territories, the interactions, to integrate sponsors into the competition and the abilty to run it on online and mobile with a heavy social media element. We set our sights on the bigger campaigns and want to improve on it. We have localized partners that produce products and content for us: 26 local magazine publishers that publish local editions, TV stations that add to our broadcasts, digital partners who represent us in certain regions. Leveraging those partnerships allows us to customize and localize for the global Miss Playboy Mobile. Localized competitions feed into the regionalized and then ultimately global competition. There are sponsorship opportunities at each level and we continue to target both men and women. We look at top social media networks in all the different global regions and we’ll try to extend a widget or application to those, in the native language. It’s an ambitious project and the targeted time frame will be Q1 2009 with target party at CTIA Wireless in April.

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CTIA 2008: The Walls Are Crumbling…

In fairytales, things usually happen in threes. At CTIA 2008, I espied three trends that promise, if not a fairy tale ending, at least a major game change in the future of mobile usage in the U.S. The evidence was everywhere that the garden walls surrounding the carriers’ pick of content for mobile users is still there, but crumbling. Hastening the inevitable, broadband mobile Internet made a strong showing at CTIA, proving its inevitability. Lastly, the number of companies pitching easy ways for Internet content creators to “mobilize” their content was amazing. Since I’ve been a big proponent of all three of these directions for the mobile content market, I had a happy time at the show.

Let me just draw attention to a handful of the companies I met with and a few of the items that caught my attention. First, one of the stars of the show was RIM’s new clam-shell Blackberry Pearl 8220.

new Blackberry Pearl

new Blackberry Pearl 8220

I’m perfectly happy with my Blackberry 8830 World Edition, but if a clam-shell Blackberry rocks your world, more power to you. And the new Blackberry does have quad-band support so it’s a world edition too.

I also had a fun time in the Yahoo booth where I got their new voice search application downloaded to my Blackbery. It’s a lot of fun to play around with, although it can’t always make sense of what I say (and that’s probably not the application’s fault), I can easily correct what appears in the browser. For the free download, go here.

QuickPlay Media is all about trying to make the mobile internet experience successful, says vp of marketing Mark Hyland. “Our CEO Wayne Purboo’s vision was that networking speeds were going to get faster and that broadband wireless would be big,” he says. “We believe that you can’t take a PC web browsing experience and cram it on to a mobile device. Mobile is very location and context specific. It makes a difference where you’re using it.”

At CTIA 2008, the company began beta-testing a brand new service for media and entertainment customers to cheaply, quickly and easily publish video to the iPhone. “And ultimately to all video-enabled devices, but we’re focusing on iPhone first because of the interest,” says Hyland. “In 5 minutes you can take existing videos in any format and create a full video site for iPhone.” This new product is expected to be released by Q4 2008; the price is not yet set.

I checked in with Nokia‘s Kamar Shah with regard to Ovi, the company’s entertainment and media sharing service, as well as the company’s future plans in the entertainment space.Once again, the mobile Internet came to the fore. “From my perspective, in the area I work in, I want to show relevance of Nokia within this market in the Internet world,” he says. “I would justify that two-fold: we’re not taking the Internet and putting it on the mobile device. We’re redefining and evolving the Internet experience. That is based on what the consumer wants. Social networking makes up 20 percent of user time – after search and mail. It’s a phenomenon. We want to take that further and make it relevant to the consumer. We also have to make the advertising relevant, we have to get it right. There’s a very low tolerance for spam on the mobile phone.”

Referring to filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson’s “Africa Diary,” which he is shooting with his N95 camera, Shah also noted that this year Nokia partnered with MTV to supply N95s to the network’s journalists for Super Tuesday; content was streamed to MTV sites. Stay tuned to MobilizedTV for more news about Nokia and the entertainment world.

UIEvolution is an answer to the cacophony of mobile’s competing operating systems, devices and networks.”Mobile phones are so fragmented in terms of operating systems,” saysKeith O’Neill, vp, business development. “The thin client technology puts a layer of frosting that gives a seamless system so you can develop on top of that without worrying that it won’t work. We can work with PCs, STBs, consumer electronics devices , and automotive audio systems.”

UIEvolution's Keith O'Neill

UIEvolution's Keith O'Neill

Fragmentation prohibits growth and innovation because it becomes cost prohibitive for content creators without deep pockets, says O’Neill, and to that end, UIEvolution is rolling out Blender, a new web developer tool and service that takes web content–text, graphics and video–and mobilizes it. The business model is based on a revenue-sharing model. The web content creator pays a set-up fee, and then splits revenue with UIEvolution, the percentage of the split depending on volume. “For all that, we host and cover all the on-going device support.”

DeviceAnywhere was another interesting destination. Any content developer worried about making the video playable on the hundreds of devices out there can do so…remotely. DeviceAnywhere is an online service that provides access to hundreds of real handsets, on live worldwide networks, remotely over the Internet for developing, testing and porting. Once again, a great solution for web creatives who want to mobilize their content without becoming computer/wireless geeks.

Thumbplay launched Thumbplay Open, says president/CEO Are Traasdahl. “It gives the ability for any content creator to sell their content to 250 million wireless users across every carrier, operating system and handset,” he says. “It’s been hard for anyone creating content to get distribution because it’s beeen very carrier controlled. “The wall is down. Now it is one big happy garden.” The challenge has bee to build a platform that works not just across handsets and operating systems but across all billing systems and video codecs. “Our system is built so it automatically detects what handsest is trying to access the content and it converts on the fly to whatever the handset requires. Our system will convert to 2,500 different handsets and it’s all seamless.”

So far, the system is launched for visual artists and musicians, but will expand to video. Click here to try it yourself.

Once the content is uploaded into Thumbplay’s system, the content creator can distribute and sell the content (the system only accepts uncopyrighted material). The system allows you to create a widget which you post to your MySpace, Facebook pages. Or you can get your own URL and sell your content from that site. “You pay nothing to put your images or music up there, although we are evaluating if there should be a fee,” says Traasdahl. “You have to pay to consume the content, either per download, which costs $1 – 3, out of which the artist gets $.50. Or you join the Thumbplay service which is $9.99 a month. Any time someone signs up for the service through the artist’s page, that artist gets $5 to 8.” (Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame made $10,000 in three months but, says Traasdahl, “he’s a very smart marketer.”)

Also new from Thumbplay was the announcement of a partnership with Comcast to provide the cable MSO with mobile entertainment services include ringtones, games, video, and music.

Last but not least, I met with David Danon of SonicBoom Media, a company that launched “Name That Tune,” a mobile music game in 2003 (which has a great back-story too long for this report). The company, says Danon, is now a leader in creating “the bridge between Web 2.0 and mobile.”

“We reach out to people in their social networks, so they feel comfortable upgrading their web experience to the phone,” he says. “It’s more profound to share an experience on the mobile that your friend has sent you from the web.”

Danon is also a big believer in the future of user-generated video content on the mobile platform: and he isn’t just talking about YouTube. Speaking to that belief is the company’s product Videomaker, due out the end of the year, which allows the user to make long-form movies from 15- to 20-second clips taken with the mobile phone’s video camera. The clips are arranged along a timeline and then connected via transition effects. The result can be sent to a mobile phone as an MMS or to a website as Flash. Also on SonicBoom Media’s agenda is the Hot America mobile beauty pageant completely on cell phones. Each state will have a competition and send its winner to the national contest. This launches in late November and the first winners will be declared in Summer 2009

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New on the Scene: TileFile

WHO: David Bolliger, CEO
WHAT: TileFile
WHERE: Sydney, Australia
WHEN: According to Bolliger, the company has been in stealth mode for the best part of two years. “We’ve done a number of interesting things in Asia leading up to the real deal,” he says.Some early investors, invested in Mixi, the dominant social network in Japan, gave the nascent TileFile a leg up. “We’re focusing on the American and Australian market, just to kick things off,” says Bolliger. “But we have seeds sown in Japan and Korea, which I can’t talk about.” TileFile is funded largely by VC money; Motorola Ventures became an investor in November 15 this year.
WHY: “I’m a filmmaker by training, and I love the new, vibrant Internet with video and photos,” says Bolliger. “But it troubles me that it’s a fractured media experience, with videos on YouTube, photos in Flickr and so on. Yes, you can hyperlink to everything, but hyperlinking isn’t really a great media experience. It’s a primitive media experience compared to what we do offline.”

Bolliger thought it would be great to make video, audio and photos a tile…with a twist. “If the front were the tile and the back were the social network, now you not only have photos or videos but packages, with a media experience in the front and the ability to socialize and make comments with people most closely related to the video.”
TileFile is aimed at the TV, the PC and the mobile phone. Bolliger describes it as “not only content-neutral but location-neutral.” “You don’t need to download any software,” says Bolliger. “The users can organize their own media, the media of their friends, media that lives in the internet, into this paradigm and have a less fractured experience, with maintaining all the social advantages. This is a richer, drag-and-drop way to share content—a next-generation experience.”

If TileFile sounds suspiciously widget-like, Bolliger agrees. “Tile file is a variation on a widget where it’s media-focused. The front is media. Then the back is the people. We’re wrapping the media in the people. You click ‘details’ and it flips over, and you can drill into the various layers depending what was on the front. The problem with widgets is that they exist because people want to make their own combination of different bits of the internet…but widgets are islands. Tile files are more like plates on a sushi train. You can organize them in any sequence, hit play and see all the different media together. When you’re interested in a particular media, you can flip it over and see the social media.”

With regard to TileFile in the mobile environment, Bolliger reports the company already has a “very sophisticated phone application” that hasn’t been released yet.


“The whole vision was that the Tile is good on the small real estate of the phone,” he says. “From the user experience, we’re taking the thumbnail to the next level: social packages. You can use familiar paradigms to greater efeect. When you can look at what you did on your phone on the giant screen, you have nonlinear access. You can drag it to friends on the web as well as the phone.”

The mobile application will be “a high-end experience with a common denominator,” promises Bolliger. “We have the user experience around a TileFile feed, which is a river of TileFiles. If all my friends use TileFile Mobile, I get to see a composite stream of all the new stuff from all my friends. I can comment on the piece of media and forward it. When I find a TileFile I like, if I send it to you, I”m not just sending you the media but the whole social activity around it, and you can get into it. It’s a fully featured TileFile application. Most of what you can do on the internet, you can do on the phone.”

“One of the key things we see happening is that we’re entering an era of web-based messaging for mobile, now that phones are better at dealing with the internet,” adds Bolliger. “Historically phone messages have been dead on arrival. I send an SMS and that’s it. But if I send you a TileFile, then that thing can live on the Web. You can join it later and add layers of description or comment. You can take the code and put it on your blog. The beauty of this approach is the moment it happens on the phone, it also lives on the Internet. So what you did on the phone is immediately available on the web as a TileFile. TileFile is not a destination site like a Facebook or MySpace. It’s an application, so you can combine TileFiles, create files, drag and drop to friends in a media-centric kind of way. Every package has a social layer.”

Bolliger also thinks TileFile has something to offer with regard to the problem of audience fragmentation. “Just as TileFile is looking to deal with the fractured media experience and improve that, we also have the potential to deal with the fracturing of the audience,” he says. “We’re doing a lot of work to make sure we become a sophisticated aggregator of audiences. The Internet, like most societies, becomes either very controlled or very grassroots. The next civilized approach is to say that these things aren’t mutually exclusive.” Bolliger also points out that when the Holy Grail of marketing and advertising is to target consumers with ads for things they want, “the ultimate vision is to bring them the content they care about. “The TileFile feed is media-centric,” he says. “I see what I want to see, I can drill into what I want to drill into. Then I can start to attenuate what reaches me.”

Currently operating as a PC-based experience, TileFile’s mobile application will launch at an unspecified future date.

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