Griffiths on mobile - Will ticketing by text make marketing a walk in the park?

With the summer festival season in full swing it seems that the take-up of mobile marketing services has, thus far, been better than our English summer. Much better in fact.

After three years of enthusing about the idea we are finally starting to see the first real mass-market use of barcodes on mobiles for the redemption of goods, via sales promotions. For example, at Capital's Party in the Park events around the country, more than 65 per cent of tickets were secured via mobile ticketing, with Juniper Research predicting that European purchases for tickets over mobile devices will see revenues totalling £21 billion by 2009.

This is great for the industry. Although it is now accepted that there is a strong link between mobile users and music lovers, as demonstrated through ringtones and music downloads, there has, until now, been little noise about the applications needed to manage transactions over mobile securely, or the products that provide easy-to-use, web-based tools for SMS campaigns.

The industry's long-term goal has been to provide barcode-style applications for mobile products. With this issue close to resolution, it paves the way for applications where all digital technology potentially enhances the benefits for all audiences.

Strategy Analytics forecasts that by 2008, 35 million users around the world will download about 635 million music files to portable devices over wireless networks, generating revenues of more than $1bn. The potential for sales is greater, removing the reliance on expensive high street stores. Customer experience is improved: record labels and third parties can provide music video, promotional material and tickets, to name just a few - all at the point of sale.

The key to the success of all this is patience. While mobile content works best through effective partnership and non-exclusive relationships, it is the integration of devices that will really drive the uptake of 'over-the-air' music services. When we launched our digital music player, our own research proved that devices would be central to any over-the-air download service.

Applications such as ticketing and text-to-screen all help to provide additional revenue services for marketers and content providers, but the key to a richer user experience is through device integration - and that will continue long after the sun has gone down on the last festival this summer.

Hugh Griffiths, head of data products, O2 (hugh.griffiths@O2.com).

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