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Speed generates 45pc of digital bids via mobile

February 22, 2012

Cable network Speed used SMS to let users place bids during a televised automobile auction.

Speed used a digital game during the recent televised Barrett-Jackson automobile auction to keep users engaged and saw that 45 percent of entries for the game were made via SMS. Speed worked with mobile marketing solution Vibes on this campaign.

“It is a game of speed and time, so dropping in a quick five to six-digit code is the fastest method of entry,” said Kevin Annison, vice president of digital and interactive media at Speed, Charlotte, NC.

Speed is a satellite and cable network that focuses on automobile-related content.

Speedy fingers
The Barrett-Jackson automobile auction is Speed’s highest show on the network and takes place in Scottsdale, AZ.

The auction took place over 28 hours, where 28 cars were auctioned off.

During the event, calls to action on TV asked users to place bets either via SMS or online to guess the price of each car that was auctioned.

One hour before each car is auctioned off, users could enter their bids either on Speed’s Web site or via SMS.

Mobile consumers could participate by texting their bid to the short code 773333. The auction-specific SMS program was live from Jan. 19–22.

Consumers who entered their bids online or through SMS were automatically entered to win the grand prize – a Ford special edition Mustang. Users could also win smaller prizes, including iPads and TVs.

Approximately 1.6 million bids were placed during the event through both mobile and Web.

According to Mr. Annison, at some points during the telecast there were 85,000 digital bids on a car. Depending on the vehicle being auctioned off, close to 55 percent of bids could have taken place via mobile.

“Mobile is extremely important because text messages are becoming so prominent and a super-easy way to get an audience to play along and engage with content,” Mr. Annison said.

On-air engagement
Speed has been testing SMS over the years for the Barrett-Jackson automobile auction, and as mobile has grown, the company has seen increased interaction via the medium.

Speed claims that when it first began using SMS, 20 percent of bids were placed via mobile compared to its average of 45 percent from this past year.

Using digital elements to elevate on-air content is being used more by broadcast and cable networks as consumers increasingly multitask while watching TV.

For example, a recent study from Nielsen Co. found that 40 percent of consumers watch TV on multiple screens. In addition to watching content via mobile, consumers are using their handsets to dig up additional information from on-air content (see story).

In particular, SMS is an effective way for users to interact during a TV event because it is the channel with the widest reach.

“There is lots of hype about apps and the mobile Web, but one of the things that is important to remember is that half of people still use a feature phone,” said Alex Campbell, CEO at Vibes, Chicago.

“The combination of SMS with online provides a great relationship overall, and by looking at the response rates, it is clear that people are sitting in front of their TVs and interacting,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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