The Future of Mobile

I’ve Seen the Future

David Murphy

I’m at the Technology for Marketing show in London, where I’ve just spent 10 minutes talking to mobile marketing firm Piri. We’ve written about the company before, focusing on its work with radio stations. Piri provides an interface designed to enable DJs them to handle incoming texts from listeners and to send out advertising messages in return texts.
Today though, Managing Director Lee Bowden told me about the company’s work with Future Publishing, and it’s a great example of how consumers can be convinced to opt in to third party marketing messages on their mobile phone, something that many marketers are sceptical about.
Here’s how it works. Future has a raft of magazine titles, covering everything from home cinema systems to mountain bikes. By definition, subscribers to these magazines are a self-selecting group, with an avowed interest in the subject matter of the magazine they subscribe to.
Over the past few years, Future has asked subscribers to opt in to receive relevant third party offers and advertising messages on their mobile phone, and many have agreed to do so.
“The key word when all this was being put in place was ‘relevance’” Bowden told me. “We made sure that the mountain bike magazines would not be able to target subscribers to one of the knitting magazines just because they were opted in, even if they wanted to.”
Future uses the Piri platform to target these subscribers in various ways. Every other week, the games retailer GAME targets opted in subscribers to Future’s console gaming magazines with offers on the latest game due in store that weekend.
“For every big game release, every retailer wants a bigger slice of the pie,” said Bowden. “This allows them to target known gaming enthusiasts and get them into their store rather than the competition’s. They can even time the message to go out on a Saturday morning if they wish.”
In the weeks when GAME is not targeting the gaming enthusiasts, a rival games retailer uses the Piri platform via Future, and between them, Bowden estimates that the two firms are sending out around 65,000 messages each month.
In another campaign, Future ran a telemarketing exercise to pitch consumers with the idea of subscribing to T3 magazine via their mobile for £5 per issue, at a time when the cost of buying the magazine on the newsstand was £3.99. So that’s a £1 premium for the convenience of paying by mobile, rather than the usual discount you get when you sign up for a 12-month subscription.
Out of 10,000 people called, 6,000 allowed Future to pitch them with the idea. Of these, 1,600 went on to subscribe, with 283 of these agreeing to take the mobile subscription, for which they are charged £5 every month on their mobile, until such time as they text ‘STOP’. All of which is, of course, spelled out to them at the time of subscription, and in each of the monthly messages they receive.
I was very impressed by what Piri had to say. The concept being deployed by Future is “Blikesque” in its targeting. Even better, in fact, because the people being targeted don’t just say they have an interest in mountain bikes or cross-stitching or whatever it is. They put their money where their mouth is and subscribe to a magazine on the subject. Who said third party offers on the mobile couldn’t work?

David Murphy