Monthly Archives: August 2013

Egyptians Give Nearly Half a Million Mobile Donations During Ramadan

Over a quarter of a million people – 284,632 – donated $484,702 (£311,625) to good causes during Ramadan in Egypt this year, a 462 per cent increase on 2012’s figure.  

$241,000 was raised in the last two days alone for charities including the 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital, the Egyptian Food Bank and Resala, via TA Telecom’s Megakheir SMS service. Megakheir processes 95 per cent of all mobile giving in the country.

“Donating to charity has always been an integral part of Ramadan, however, the proliferation of mobile technology that the region has seen in recent years has provided the people of Egypt with a highly way of channelling their generosity,” said Amr Shady, CEO and co-founder of TA Telecom. “SMS donation platforms allow charities and NGOs to reach a wider audience, generate more funds and ultimately make a greater difference to society.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/egyptians-give-nearly-half-million-mobile-donations-during-ramadan#kGZzJpe0bimxTMLP.99

Vodafone’s 4G Showdown with O2 on 29 August

Vodafone has announced that it will be launching its 4G network on exactly the same day as rival O2, revealing a range of tariffs, benefits and milestones in a bid to outdo its fellow operator. 

Although it has only promised a London launch on 29 August – compared to O2’s additional Leeds and Bradford – is says it will have 12 more cities live by the end of the year, where O2 pledged 10. After London, launches in Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are expected from Vodafone before the end of the year.

EE, O2 and Vodafone have all promised 4G coverage for 98 per cent of the UK population, with EE committing to the end of 2014, Vodafone to the end of 2015 and O2 not yet venturing a date. While O2 limited its detail on customer deals, Vodafone has fully outlined plans for its 24-month, 12-month and SIM-only ‘Red 4G-ready’ payment options.  

All Vodafone Red 4G-ready plans come with either Sky Sports Mobile TV or Spotify Premium, plus unlimited calls and texts. They also have unlimited data for the first three months, followed by either 2GB, 4GB or 8GB per month – double the standard allowance on Vodafone’s standard plans.  Vodafone’s 24-month plans start at £34 with a handset, while 12-month plans start at £52. 

Anyone on a standard Vodafone Red contract that has a 4G-ready device can upgrade for £5 to get Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile TV, double the amount of data and get 4G access. Customers who have a 4G-ready device can get SIM-only deals from £26 a month for 12 months, costing £3 more than EE’s lowest deal, while offering 2GB of data and the free perks for six months, before a charge is added to their plan. 

Vodafone is also offering a range of 4G tablet plans, starting at £31 per month for the eight-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, or the Sony Xperia Tablet Z at £37 per month. 

Vodafone spent considerably more acquiring its spectrum than O2 – £802m compared to £550m – which it says is down to buying both low-frequency for going further and working better indoors, as well as high-frequency spectrum, giving it greater capacity in densely populated urban areas. 


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here:  http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/vodafone%E2%80%99s-4g-showdown-o2-29-august#MvgpXmPybOxWLx7g.99

Spotlight: Open Fundraising

Open Fundraising, an ad agency that works exclusively with charities, found itself in a perfect storm three years ago. Just as mobile was becoming the personal communications platform of choice for consumers, the government said that it wouldn’t tax mobile services and operators agreed that they were keen to give as much as possible to charities seeking a new form of revenue here. 

This, with the fact that “no one else was doing the same thing”, meant Open Fundraising found itself in the position to help its clients use the mobile channel to increase giving and open up communications with supporters. “We didn’t set out to be a tech company – we did this because no one else could,” says James Briggs, creative director of Open Fundraising. 

“Out of nowhere came a really amazing payment system, with a response mechanism for traditional media,” he says. “We thought, ‘wow, what would happen if we tried this out for someone we work with?’. We took out a full-page ad for Christian Aid in the Guardian’s Saturday magazine explaining that every 45 seconds a child dies of malaria and asked people to text ‘net’ to donate. 

“The initial response prompted us to try the same in other papers and then on trains and other places where people are hanging around with phones in their hand. This is how we can be sure that people use their phones while they’re on the toilet,” he adds. “Before we knew it, we had thousands of new donors all putting their hands up and saying ‘I want to help children dying from malaria’.” 

Premium-rate hangover 

As a new form of giving, the effort was not without its challenges. The hangover from the heady days of Crazy Frog meant all SMS campaigns were regulated by the PhonePayPlus trade body, which specified a mandatory STOP opt-out. “But for charities”, says Briggs, “this was not a good message. It was like we were saying ‘we don’t want you’.” Briggs headed down to meet PhonePayPlus with the head of individual giving from UNICEF – which has been “blazing a trail” in mobilising the third sector –  to put the case for an alternative system. 

PhonePayPlus agreed to change the rules so charities are exempt from having to communicate STOP every month and can instead give the option to SKIP a gift rather than cancel. “We were excited to test that system,” he says. This messaging system is now used by 18 of the top 20 UK charities. 

How big is this opportunity?  

As early as 2010, explains the company’s MD, Tim Longfoot, the Red Nose Day campaign processed 250,000 donations online, 750,000 using the traditional telethon mechanism, while 4.2m people texted their contribution. Today £150,000 worth of donations pass through Open Fundraising’s Mobilise platform each month and within a year of its launch, the agency expects to have taken more than £1m in mobile gifts. Longfoot says the value and volume is doubling each month too.  

“70 per cent of what Open does is still writing to older people,” he says. “The reason we’ve seen such extraordinary growth in our mobile operations is because it’s easy. On the same device that money is taken, communication is overseen. People actually read texts; no one reads corporate charity emails. And the option to skip puts the control firmly in the hands of the donor.” 

Donors text back 

Open Fundraising ran a campaign for Breakthrough Breast Cancer as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to “put health information into purses and handbags”. The integrated campaign started with print ads to request information, which was fulfilled with a phone call and followed by monthly reminders to help women follow the advice. “Then we started receiving text replies from women whose lives had been touched by cancer. We were surprised by this, and then we realised we really shouldn’t have been,” Longfoot says. “This is a really personal interaction on exactly the right platform.” 

So what about other types of mobile communications? “We are not here to sell you an app,” says Paul de Gregorio, head of mobile with the agency. “That might change as smartphone connections get faster, but SMS is number one for us on mobile today. Simon Cowell knows just how powerful text and TV is. Mobile blurs on and offline, traditional with newer channels.” 

Making activists of Middle England 

“Our Friends of the Earth bee campaign – where you text ‘bees’ to give £3 and receive bee-friendly flower seeds as a thank you – proved that we were creating activists in ‘Middle England’, not just ‘bored young people’, as had been one accusation,” he says. “People also criticise this as ‘armchair activism’, but it’s exactly the same thing whether you are approached in the street or respond via text to a print ad. In fact, smartphones actually make giving into a mass market.” 

“We’re an ad agency using all the marketing tricks to achieve good things,” he adds. “I like advertising – so to be able to do it for good is just amazing. This is the future of where fundraising and change will happen.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/spotlight-open-fundraising#MrTtv2jmX1BRVUVi.99

3 to go 4G in Q4

3 has reported a record £1bn revenue for the first half of 2013, with operating profit more than tripling from the same period last year, up to £86m from £26m.  

The company has added 697,000 customers during this time – 168,000 of them in Q2, 2013 – with many opting for the operator’s all-you-can-eat 3G contracts.

Revenue from calls, texts and data reported in the company’s H1 earnings remained flat at £667m – despite CEO David Dyson revealing in June that data usage per person had increased from 1.1GB to 1.8GB every month – but handset revenue increased 30 per cent to £321m in H1. 

In a bid to offer greater transparency, 3 has changed the way it measures its customer base, for the first time counting only active accounts used in the last 90 days, of which there are 7.5m, as opposed to the number of people registered with the company in total. This might give the impression that the operator has lost 1.7m customers since it reported Q1 results in March – but these are likely to be prepaid customers who are no longer using their SIM. 

Going 4G 

The UK’s newest mobile operator, which struggled from 2003 until 2010 to turn a profit, will be shifting its attention to using 4G spectrum allocation by the end of this year. “We’re on track to launch in Q4 and we will offer 4G at no extra charge,” said Guy Middleton, head of corporate communications at 3. “When we switch on our 4G network well over a million of our customers will already have a 4G device, so they will get automatic and hassle-free access in 4G areas without the need to change plans or SIM cards. Everyone on 3 with a 4G device will be able to enjoy our 4G services as we roll out the network across the country to add capacity to what is already the UK’s fastest 3G network.” 

The company says its dual carrier 3G network is already 100 times faster than it was when it launched in the UK and claims that its customers might already see speeds in excess of 20MBps. Ofcom considers speeds above 6MBps as a 4G experience. 3’s CEO stated in June that the operator is looking to ensure it has enough capacity rather than headline speeds when its 4G service goes live.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/3-go-4g-q4#1QMoJgblFZDXKdkl.99

Sun Erects Digital Paywall

The Sun’s digital content is now behind a paywall, costing subscribers £2 per week after a trial period of two months’ access for just £1. 

The Sun’s website – which isn’t optimised for mobile browsers – along with its apps can now only be accessed by paying subscribers. A spokesperson confirmed that the company’s apps will still offer ad placements to advertisers looking to reach its audience behind the paywall. 


The digital package can be accessed on iPhone 4 plus or Android handests running version 2.3 and above, but Sun+Goals football content and Sun+Perks offers require iOS6 or Android 4.3 to work.


Print readers can also be part of the fun if they collect 20 unique codes from the newspaper, which will grant them a month’s access to Sun+ across desktop, mobile and tablet.


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/sun-erects-digital-paywall#SUZEfG5tDrSpumdJ.99

O2 4G Switch On 29 August

O2 has announced its 4G switch on date, with London, Leeds and Bradford the first cities to be covered when the service launches on 29 August. Having spent nearly a full year becoming increasingly overcome with fatEEgue, O2’s announcement could not come a moment too soon.

But it is clear that the second operator to go live with superfast broadband has a lot of catching up to do – EE has already signed up 500,000 customers and its network covers 55 per cent of the population. After launch, O2 has promised 10 more cities by the end of the year: Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh. 

Although O2 has announced plans to match EE’s commitment to reach 98 per cent of the population –  and has highlighted that its valuable 800MHz frequency will ensure the service works ‘both indoor and outdoor’ – the company has not yet ventured a deadline for this.  EE has pledged to reach 98 per cent of people by the end of 2014, and owns 36 per cent of the country’s total 4G spectrum compared to O2’s 15 per cent. 

Tariffs will start at £26 per month – most likely a SIM-only, 500MB-data option akin to the £23 option EE introduced in May – with pay-as-you-go and business packages on the way. EE already has 2,000 UK businesses, including the likes of Renault and Ikea, on its books. 

In a clear drive to differentiate itself, O2 has announced a mystery live launch performance at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to coincide with the switch on, with early-bird ticketing on offer for its Priority Moments customers. 4G customers will also be able to get a free, year-long music package when they sign up direct with O2. 

O2 says it spent £550m to secure one of the highest proportions of the lowest frequency spectrum as it travels further and can move better through solid objects. Data usage by its 22.9m existing UK customers has already more than doubled in the last twelve months, the company said. EE, which formed in 2010 from Orange and T-Mobile, revealed it has 27.5m customers in its last earnings call.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/o2-4g-switch-29-august#bOOEGeCZ8ujVtR4b.99