Giving Playboy some competition, Penthouse has secured $48 million in private funding to pursue an on-demand, subscription cable channel and wireless offering. After going bankrupt two years ago and morphing into a privately held company run by Marc Bell, Penthouse has toned down its raunchy image and plans to introduce more general, non-sexual content.
At London's Heathrow Airport Virgin Atlantic terminal Bluetooth transmitters are sending text messages to nearby cell phone users asking them if they want to view a video ad on their cell phone for the new Range Rover Sport SUV. Billboard company Maiden Group and technology company Filter UK have teamed to place transmitters in the airport along with 30 UK train stations. Only cell phone users who have Bluetooth capable phones will receive the text message asking if they want to view the ad. The program seems to have worked. In a two week test, 13,000 out of 87,000 Bluetooth-enabled phone owners opted to view the ad. At 15 percent, that's a pretty good success rate. The Wall Street Journal has more.
Extending its brand further into people's lives, Disney, using the Sprint network, will launch Disney Mobile, a cell phone service targeted t families with kids 11 to 14. Besides phone service, Disney Mobile will offer Disney-related content including ring tones based on familiar Disney songs, Disney branded phones, games and images. The service is set to launch in 2006.
Interspot has announced the beta launch of their SMS service which provides users free text messaging. The text messages are appended with ads which can be geo-targted. Mobile coupons will be offered as part of the service too.
While Commercial Alert's Gary Ruskin says, "Good luck," cell phone providers have adopted a set of guidelines, Consumer Best Practices Guidelines for Cross-Carrier Mobile Content Services, which is intended to place limits on marketer's use of the cell phone as an advertising medium. The guidelines call for double opt-in to promotions, how people are charged for air time and wording people can use to opt in or out of promotions. Even as the guidelines are adopted by all major U.S cell phone companies, Ruskin believes cell advertising will, none the less, proliferate and cause a backlash similar to those that have occurred in Europe where the medium is more established. Ruskin is particularly concerned over the guideline's allowance of opt-in list sale to third parties.
Is that a Podcast in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Further insuring the cell phone's position is the center of the universe, FreeRange Communications today introduced FreeNews, an RSS news and weblog reader for mobile devices, phones and PDAs. With FreeNews, people can get feeds of Web information—such as news, sports, weather, stock quotes, or company news—directly on their phones.
The Media Drop reports Google has acquired (hired the execs of) Dodgeball, a company that enables cell phone users to have a text message sent to their phone when their friends are nearby. Now, not only will Google know your every online move, they will potentially know your physical location anywhere in the world enabling them to port their online contextual ad model to an offline, geotextual, SMS ad model. there's no stopping these guys.
Launched last week, a new Times Square billboard for Nike allows people to manipulate the board's imagery using SMS to build their own sneaker which can them be purchased online at a web address sent back to the person's phone. The board only accepts manipulation between noon and 1PM and 3PM to 5PM. It's an admirable effort towards increasing time spent with the brand. Though, with the number of people passing by, SMSing the board, it's a wonder it won't explode responding to all the requests.
Teaming with U.K.-based mobile marketing company Flyxt, Time Inc. launched, on April 1, a text messaging campaign directed towards current and prospective People and Teen People magazines that provided news, polls, horoscopes and chat rooms. The campaign is expected to expand to other titles, including Time and Entertainment Weekly, this week and to Sports Illustrated in a few weeks.