21 Apr Mobile content: Where brand meets markets
What does a nearly 100-year-old greeting card company have to teach the market about mobile content? A lot, it would seem from my recent conversation with Bryan Biniak, general manager of American Greetings’ recently formed AGmobile group.
In just under 100 days, AGmobile has gone from pilot “skunk works” to a potent spinout of American Greetings, arguably the most progressive technology innovator in the “social and self- expressions products” market (that’s greeting cards and gift wrap to you and me).
At CTIA earlier this month, AGmobile announced a deal with Univision Online, a division of Univision Communications, to provide mobile media services to the very lucrative Latino market. Univision Communications also includes Univision Network, which reaches 98 percent of all U.S. Hispanic television households. U.S. Hispanic households – some 39 million of them – hold purchasing power of $550 billion. In major U.S. cities, up to 75 percent of Hispanics own a mobile phone and spend 10 percent more on their wireless phone bills than the national average. And, according to Biniak, they buy two to three times more personalized content than do other wireless users.
In exclusive partnership with Univision, AGmobile will offer a range of services from customized greetings, ringtones, and graphics to information and entertainment services.
Such a proactive and quick move into the mobile messaging space isn’t surprising if you look at American Greetings’ track record in new technology adoption. As the consumer Internet was heating up almost a decade ago, American Greetings jumped into the online business. It pioneered emoticons for instant messaging and developed the multimedia email platform, JazzyMail. Today, through a number of sites, including Blue Mountain and Egreetings.com, American Greetings is the largest provider of online greeting products, serving an astonishing 127 million unique users each year.
In the mobile space, however, AGmobile is looking for strong brand partnerships that touch untapped demographics. In our conversation, Biniak hinted that several more high profile, and highly targeted, brands are waiting in the wings. Each, he said, will appeal to specific demographics that demonstrate a propensity to spend on personalized content. AGMobile, he said, will “create packages of data services based upon usage habits, usage platforms, life stages, and life styles.”
These packaged services are catching the attention of carriers, who Biniak describes as the “gateway to the customer.” And the gateways, he’s quick to add, have the control. Carriers are protective of the customer and the customer experience on the devices and services that wear the carriers’ brands. That control gives carriers the upper hand not just in choosing the content they “stock” in their services, but in the share of revenue they receive on content shipped across their networks.
That will change, however, “when brands put more marketing dollars on the table,” Biniak says. “When brands create innovative, customer-centric programs and begin bringing [new] customers to the table, then data services providers will have the opportunity with carriers to negotiate minutes share into the deal.”
For an example of how those deals might work, keep an eye on AGmobile. This old-line company has a lot to teach new, wireless- era content providers. For more information, see < http://www.agmobile.com > .
DEMO alum iRobot is helping to save lives in Iraq. The U.S. military is using about 100 of the firm’s unmanned PackBot robots to search and destroy explosives on the battlefield. The robots are roaming the treacherous terrain of the Middle East doing reconnaissance and ordinance disposal, allowing soldiers to stay at a safe distance. iRobot announced last week that it has signed a $32 million contract with the government to create a more compact version of its 42-pound product . . . The fork has come out of the Netscape browser. According to the IDG News Service, America Online plans to resurrect the browser and the brand as early as next month. First up, is an update to the Netscape Internet software, which will be released as Version 7.2. IDG News Service says it will be based on the Mozilla Internet Application Suite . . . First he was knighted, now he’s a millionaire. The Father of the Web Tim Berners-Lee received the first Millennium Technology Prize to the tune of $1.19 million. A gift of the Finnish Technology Award Foundation, the award, which is to be handed out every two years, is given based on “outstanding technical achievements that directly promote people’s quality of life, are based on humane values, and encourage sustainable economic development.” Berners-Lee is currently director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which helps to develop interoperable standards for the Web.
Are you ready to launch at DEMOmobile 2004?
The search is under way to find the 50 products that will launch at DEMOmobile 2004, September 8-10, 2004, in La Jolla, California.
DEMOmobile is a high-visibility launch platform that will set your company on the path to success. It’s the best venue for positioning new mobile and wireless products and establishing strategic relationships with the players who will lead you to success. The conference’s stringent selection process and excellent reputation serves as an endorsement for your product as it comes to market. DEMO events have helped companies like Palm, Handspring, IBM Pervasive Computing, Logitech, Mirra, Tapwave, Macromedia – even Microsoft – launch their products, create critical business relationships, and sell to thought-leading early adopters.
DEMOmobile 2003 demonstrators benefited from more than 162 million media impressions before, during, and long after the event.
Visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demonstrate/tour/index-demo2.html to learn more and complete an online application.
DEMOmobile 2004 September 8-10, 2004 Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, La Jolla, CA http://www.idgexecforums.com/demomobile/.
Chris Shipley is the executive producer of NetworkWorld’s DEMO Conferences, Editor of DEMOletter and a technology industry analyst for nearly 20 years. She can be reached at email@example.com. Shipley, has covered the personal technology business since 1984 and is regarded as one of the top analysts covering the technology industry today. Shipley has worked as a writer and editor for variety of technology consumer magazines, including PC Week, PC Magazine, PC/Computing, and InfoWorld, US Magazine and Working Woman. She has written two books on communications and Internet technology, has won numerous awards for journalistic excellence, and was named the #1 newsletter editor by Marketing Computers for two years in a row. To subscribe to DEMOletter please visit: http://www.idgexecforums.com/demoletter/index.html.
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