It’s been a rough old ride for the world of premium SMS of late. What with the numerous scandals involving TV channels, Vodafone having a couple of overcharging problems, ICSTIS adjudications and fines on the increase and public trust in the industry at an all time low, I’m wondering whether this is the end of premium SMS as we know it.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing some blog posts about the subject, with examples of how they do things in other countries, talking about how the industry can clean up it’s act, what ICSTIS plan for the future, and other related subjects. I’d welcome your feedback, whether you’re a consumer, aggregator, service provider, or just have something to say on the subject.
I’ll skip the history lesson and assume everyone knows the basics of how premium SMS works, what shortcodes are, and so on and so forth. Today’s case study is of a competition campaign for Coca Cola’s Dr Pepper brand, as I just happen to have a bottle in front of me. We’ll be comparing it to a similar competition for ITV’s popular soap Coronation Street.
The bottle gives me a chance to win ‘the ultimate Wii games room’, including a 26″ LCD TV, mini-fridge full of soft drinks, and of course the aforementioned Nintendo Wii. I can enter the competition via SMS, or just go to their website. I chose the SMS option, otherwise this would be a very short blog entry!
To enter, I just texted the unique code inside my bottle to a shortcode. That cost me my normal network rates (10-12p according to the label). This is what I got back:
Wicked. So I’m in the draw for today, and I’ve got a discount code to save some cash on some PS3 games (yes I’ve blurred the code, have to get your own!). It’s a free to user text, and Coca Cola have picked up the tab. I’ve so far spent just my normal network text rate.
Then, a few seconds later, I got another text. Although it’s from a shortcode, again it’s a free to user text:
I’ve not got a problem with being asked for my details, and don’t think this is pushy at all. My mobile number hasn’t been opted in yet, and if I don’t want to get more info I’ll just ignore it.
My point in all this? I’ve entered a competition to win about £1k worth of stuff, and it’s cost me just one text. Not one text plus 25p, or 50p, or £1.50. Just 10p inc VAT, in my case. Coca Cola haven’t got anything out of me, like permission to market to me or anything, but I’m in with a chance to win some cool stuff.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin. A quick Google through the net, and I found the terms and conditions for an ITV Coronation Street competition, where I could win a 32″ TV, a DVD recorder and a DVD box set. Ok so it’s a little bit more than what I could win with Dr Pepper, but look at how different it is:
1.4 Entry to the competition is by SMS only. Entrants are required to send a text to 63337 with the keyword QUIZ. The charge per text message will be £1 plus up to 7 messages at standard network charge. The total cost will therefore be dependent on the entrant’s network.
£1 *plus* up to seven standard texts? That’s going to be nearly £2 by the time I finish. Reckon they’ll ask me if I want to opt-in to receive marketing texts? Not according to this, they won’t:
So unlike Coca Cola who’ve asked me if I want my personal data used, ITV *will* use my personal data, give it out to anyone that wants it, *and* charge me nearly £2 for the privilege? What absolute rubbish. I’m sure this breaks some rules somewhere or other. Guess which providers are running this? Yep, MIG and Eckoh. Those are two names we’ve heard a lot about lately, and it ain’t been good..
Anyway, to sum up, in my opinion Coca Cola know how to treat their consumers, and ITV haven’t got the foggiest. The problem is that certain broadcasters are using their immense audience reach to try and screw as much money out of their viewers as possible – at least until the new ICSTIS Guidelines get approved and come into effect. Until them, it appears to be a free for all in the attempt to prop up falling advertising revenues by fleecing consumers.