I-RECALL: Behind the Hype - Mobile content for the text generation The marketing potential of mobile phones employing text messages is explored.

Although people were banging on about WAP and how massive it was

going to be this time last year, reality has kicked in and people have

realised that it is early days for the technology. The potential of text

messaging and mobile marketing via the bog-standard, second-generation

mobiles possessed by nearly every man and his dog was largely overlooked

by the industry.



It is only over the past six months that we have seen the realisation

that text messaging can very often be the way to a consumer's heart,

with the launch of marketing companies concentrating exclusively on

mobile. Flytxt, for example, has been very active in the space, as has

Worldpop, and nearly every major internet service provider now offers

free text messaging services and uses mobile to notify its consumers

about news, events, stock prices, etc.



Riot-e is a Finnish company (mobile penetration is almost twice internet

penetration in Finland) that launched in February last year, and has

offices in London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Rome and Singapore.



The mobile marketing group focuses on distributing both promotional

messages and branded content for content providers through agreements

with telcoms operators.



By hooking into the popularity of a product or entertainment program, it

can offer branded SMS games, ringtones and logos. Users may pay per

ringtone or logo or through a premium rate phone call.



Up until now, most of the company's campaigns have been country-specific

but Riot-e intends to launch pan-European campaigns soon.



One promotional campaign was its push for the UK launch of Bridget

Jones's Diary where users could opt in for SMS messages up until the

launch and download ringtones and logos. So successful was this, Riot-e

will run a campaign around the film's launch in Spain with

Telefonica.



Riot-e's partnership deal with Marvel Enterprises has also enabled it to

attract nearly 200,000 downloads of X-Men characters by mobile phone

users in Japan.



Funding To date the company has raised dollars 19 million in funding.

The first round of funding was worth dollars 4 million in February 2000,

and in October 2000 the company raised a further dollars 15 million from

the likes of the Carlyle Group, Softbank UK Ventures and CDB Web

Tech.



Founders Riot-e was founded by its chief executive, Jan Wellmann, its

vice-president of finance and administration, Henri Korpi, and its

creative director, Jani Halme.



Target audience Riot-e is a business-to-business service, providing

marketing and content to mobile users on the behalf of content

providers, so its target audience depends on that of its clients.



Competitors Most mobile marketing companies, such as Flytxt and

12Snap.



THE YEAR AHEAD



We're not convinced



This sector is coming of age so there's currently enough room for all.

However, the rush to launch mobile promotions will more than likely

subside early next year, sorting the men from the boys.