Masterclassing Connect

The X Factor? It's a Gas (Meter)

David Murphy

Personally speaking, we couldnt wait for the recent series of The X Factor to finish. If you want to ruin a dodgy song, go buy yourself a 50-quid karaoke machine from Dixons, we say, and spare the rest of the nation the torture.
But we are, it seems, in a minority, and last Saturday, on the back of 10.8 million votes, no less, Shayne Ward triumphed by a tiny majority over fellow-finalists Andy and Journey South to win the right to release one or more albums of dodgy cover versions. Or did he?
Incentivated boss Jonathan Bass contacted Mobile Marketing this week to tell us about a strange spike in texts to one of the shortcodes the company operates for a utility company clients meter reading service. On a typical Saturday night, the shortcode, 63322, gets around 100 texts. Last Saturday evening, it received a staggering 30,000.
The anomaly was discovered when the company did a sense check of the logs on Tuesday, but while they scratched their heads wondering why everyone had decided to read their gas meter that night, (sounds like a good plan to us if the alternative was to watch The X Factor) closer investigation revealed that the texts were all votes for the X Factor finalists. The X Factor shortcode is a very similar 83322.
The plot thickens further as Bass reveals that most of the votes (44%) were for Andy, with Shayne receiving 36% and Journey South just 20%.
The big question is, of course, would the 2,400 extra votes that Incentivated received for  Andy over the ones received for Shayne have made a difference to the final result? Even though there was less than 1% of the vote separating the two crooners, Andys 2,400 gas meter votes represent a mere 0.024% of the total votes cast, so you would think probably not. But as Bass points out:
The truth is, well never know. Who knows how many other votes were sent to other similar, but wrong, shortcodes? What it does show is that whatever application you are building for a client, you have to expect the unexpected, and make sure your systems can cope with it.