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branding unbound

branding unbound

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Published by Juan Carlos Sabbag

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Published by: Juan Carlos Sabbag on Mar 31, 2011
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07/26/2013

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The North Carolina Hurricanes hockey team has long enjoyed a
great deal of success with m-commerce, enabling fans to purchase
tickets through Web-enabled cell phones and PDAs via the team’s
wireless Web site, Canes1.com.
The team was an early pioneer in U.S.–based wireless market-
ing, having launched the National Hockey League’s first wireless ad
campaign and reportedly generating a 15 percent response rate on
around 10,000 impressions—ads delivered to individual wireless
users—at around $40 to $80 per thousand ad impressions. Around
8 percent of respondents ended up buying tickets, saving $5 on
admission as part of the promotion.
The ads enticed users to initiate a ‘‘call-through,’’ the wireless
equivalent of a ‘‘click through.’’ Once initiated, the call-throughs
connected users to the team’s ticket office, where they were able
to buy tickets.

‘‘It’s not enough to wait for someone to sit in front of their TV
or turn on their computer anymore,’’ says Howard Sadel, the
team’s director of new media and graphic communications. ‘‘You
need to reach them on the road, in the airport, and on the go.’’
The test campaign went well, and Sadel says the team will do
more in the future. But just the same, Sadel has found a more
immediate—and more lucrative—way to capitalize on m-commerce.
Working with Sun Microsystems and other partners, the team
revamped Canes1.com to enable fans to participate in interactive
trivia during live hockey games. They can vote for MVPs, play fan-
tasy hockey games, have food delivered to their seats, augment
their viewing experience with real-time scores, stats, and game in-
formation, and bid in auctions for memorabilia. They can also still

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check out news and purchase tickets, anywhere, anytime. But the
most compelling venue for this experience is in-stadium, during a
game, where promotions and interactivity with fans take center
stage—complete with Jumbotron voting, videogame scores, and
auction promotions—making this an early form of ‘‘l-commerce,’’
or commerce based on location.
About 10,000 to 12,000 fans participate in these wireless activi-
ties every season. That’s a small fraction of the 1.2 to 1.8 million
fans who take part via the team’s wireline Internet site. But the
number is growing.

And while the team and league have been buffeted by a bitter
labor dispute that resulted in the cancellation of the 2005 hockey
season, wireless promises to help wow fans in seasons to come.
‘‘Wireless just makes sense because of how the fan experience
can be enhanced,’’ says Sadel. ‘‘From being able to sit in your seat
and order food, to playing the games, to buying tickets, to out-
bound promotions and sports scores sent directly to fans wherever
they are, it just has huge potential. At some point, it becomes more
powerful than the Web site, no doubt.’’
Next up: Sadel hopes to blanket the surrounding neighborhood
with WiMax to ‘‘narrowcast’’ premium Canes content—delivering
digital content to specific recipients, in this case local sports bars,
restaurants, and other retail partners—so he can further fuel fande-
monium. By 2012, he says, we all may have a level of connectivity,
‘‘where my cell phone automatically interfaces with my car when I
get in, and it’ll deliver narrowcast audio, and sooner after that,
video, directly to screens or speakers in my car. It’s not that far off.’’

T HA T’ S T HE TI CK ET

Moviefone, a service of America Online, will no doubt use these
and other capabilities to get you out of the car and into a Cineplex.
Moviefone’s revamped mobile site, launched summer 2005, enables

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movie fans to check movie listings, read reviews, find the nearest
theater, and preorder tickets.
‘‘I think the real benefit for users is the ability not only to get
theater information and show times, but also to convert that infor-
mation, with a couple of clicks, into buying a ticket,’’ says Lowell
Winer, senior business development manager for America Online’s
entertainment properties. Like WaitLess.com, Moviefone enables
users to set up an account by entering credit card information
through a Web portal. When they go to buy a ticket from their cell
phone, an encrypted authentication process matches the phone
with the account to complete the transaction.
An earlier version of the service offered local movie listings,
but lacked the m-commerce capabilities that would make it a true
companion to Moviefone’s telephone and Web-based services.
Winer hopes that future phases of the service’s evolution will in-
clude geo-location capabilities that offer directions to the theater
relative to the location of the device, full video display of movie
trailers, and even a community for fan-based movie commentary,
and SMS–based alerts about coming attractions.
‘‘As the mobile handset becomes more of a PC–[like] device,
and there’s browsing and an experience of multimedia content, this
becomes a good exercise for us to learn about mobile data and learn
about what consumers want,’’ he says. ‘‘I would imagine this won’t
be the last asset [AOL] deploys on a handset.’’
According to Winer, wireless is a natural extension of Movie-
fone’s other Web- and voice-based offerings.
‘‘Some consumers just don’t like have to deal with integrated
voice response systems,’’ he says, referring to the ‘‘for local listing,
press three, to purchase tickets, press nine’’ element of the tele-
phony experience. ‘‘It takes longer, and it can be a frustrating expe-
rience, especially when you’re punching in your credit card number
to buy a ticket, whereas with this, you’re already authenticated, and
it’s just a much cleaner, simpler experience.’’
In fact, Moviefone has seen transactions via its Web site surpass
its venerable voice service, increasing to 12 million unique monthly
visitors, or roughly 60 percent of its user base. About 5 percent
of all users go on to purchase advance tickets through one of the

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Moviefone venues. Winer hopes wireless will increase that percent-
age, and help keep the service one step ahead of the competition,
including Fandango, Hollywood.com, and others.
‘‘Irrespective of competition, Moviefone is one of the top cou-
ple of [AOL] products that we’re interested in launching into the
mobile space, simply because it’s a utility on the go,’’ he says. ‘‘The
competitive environment just makes it that much more inter-
esting.’’

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