Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: 3G Content at Tipping Point

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: 3G Content at Tipping Point

Article excerpt

News Corp's multimillion-pound investment has signalled the rising stock of mobile content.

The hype around mobile media since the much-publicised 3G auctions in 1999 is enough to make any marketer weary when they read yet again that the channel is coming of age.

But the decision by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation last week to snap up ringtone firm Jamba sends a clear signal that this market is at last ripe for generating substantial returns.

The global media giant has bought a 51% stake in the company, which created Crazy Frog, for dollars 188m (pounds 99m). News Corp plans to merge it with Fox Mobile Entertainment and sell clips, ringtones and wallpaper, as well as launch additional formats.

'People have been talking about mobile marketing for years, but this is a strong sign of confidence in the medium,' says Jamyn Edis, senior manager, media and entertainment strategy practice at Accenture. 'In the last generation of phones, it was very much companies and press getting excited about it, but there was no consumer hype or awareness; now there is.'

Nevertheless, Edis warns that the market is still in its infancy and full of unanswered questions. He predicts that it will take about two years before clear business models are established.

'We know that consumers like texting and ringtones. But will they like music? Radio? TV? Advertising? We don't know. There is a lot of promise, but the market is still there for the taking,' he adds.

Major players from a number of sectors are throwing their hats into the ring. Microsoft, for example, is trialling a 'clip and share' service, which enables users to forward snippets from live broadcasts to friends. ITV, meanwhile, is trying to bolster its fading revenues by offering behind-the-scenes clips of its most popular shows, such as The X Factor. It has struck a deal with mobile network operator 3 to stream, or 'simulcast', its TV content. And BT and Virgin have launched BT Movio, which enables users to subscribe to TV and radio channels via their mobiles.

Initial research suggests that news, soaps, music, documentaries and sports are proving the most popular 3G content. Consumers also have an appetite for user-generated content, such as 3's SeeMeTV, which receives more than 1m download requests every month.

Somewhat predictably, mobile adult content is also set to soar, according to Juniper Research, and will be worth dollars 3.3bn (pounds 1.8bn) by 2011.

However, the market will not generate significant revenues until all parties commit fully to supporting the mobile channel, according to Thomas Husson, mobile analyst at Jupiter Research.

'Content owners - in other words, broadcasters - are not sharing the risk yet,' he says. 'We are not at a stage where it is considered profitable enough to integrate the cost of producing content just for mobile. But it is a promising market and it will happen in the next couple of years.'

Operators such as 3 are inevitably keen to speed up this process by encouraging production companies to create bespoke content. It launched a '3 Pilot Pitch' competition earlier this year, offering the prize of a pounds 50,000 budget to develop the best mobile content idea.

3 is also at the forefront of developing a viable business model for the less- developed mobile advertising market. …

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