Making a Monkey Out of Mobile Music

POSTED BY Global Administrator
The boys at Orange clearly like the animal kingdom. Over the past few years, we have seen veritable menagerie of Dolphins, Raccoons, Panthers, Canaries and Camels, respectively swimming, scuttling, running, flying, and smoking (sorry – not that kind of camel) their way into customer price plans. And now, clearly feeling that the simian corner of the Orange Zoo was a little bereft of inhabitants, they give us … Monkey. (A mischievous aside here: how exactly do the Orange marketing men go about this process of allocating species to their price plans, particularly given that dolphins, raccoons et al are not known for being prolific texters, calling their friends at the weekend, or indeed calling from overseas? Do they pull them out of a hat? And have any species been ruled out because they felt that their customers might not want to be, say, a Skunk or a Hyena? And is there an opportunity to promote the virtues of some lesser known creatures? Can we have an Echidna next time?) But I digress. Monkey is the first prepaid plan in the UK to offer free music to customers when they top up: thus, for example, whenever a customer tops up with £10, they receive an additional 300 text messages above and beyond their credit, together with 600 free minutes of streamed music. The service – developed in conjunction with Universal Music and UK broadcaster Channel 4 – also allows users to create, listen to and share playlists on the web and on any mobile, together with providing extra content such as pre-release tracks, competitions and music news. Orange will be promoting the service via its own distribution channels, while Channel 4’s youth-oriented channel 4Music will promote the service online and across the Channel 4 portfolio. Orange is currently making a big play for the UK youth market: on Monday the operator confirmed that it would be developing a partnership with the ad-funded MVNO Blyk under which Blyk will cease its MVNO operations from late-August and – or so it appears – will subsequently be utilising the engagement techniques tested on its 200,000 subscribers (virtually all in the 16-24 age range) on the same demographic amongst Orange users.  And while the advertising market per se has taken a beating within the global downturn, Blyk was generating some quite remarkable response rates to their campaigns it ran, albeit with a comparatively small user base: in September last year Timo Ahopelto, Blyk’s head of strategy and advertising business development, said that the company had run over 1,000 advertising campaigns with an average click through rate (per recipient, not per ad) of over 25%. If Orange can generate response rates of even a quarter of this, then given its far higher user base within this key demographic, advertisers will be extremely interested. But to return to Monkey: there is increasing activity across the mobile industry as operators, service providers and OS providers attempt to devise the optimal strategy for monetising music. Certainly, offering streamed music/radio appears to be the flavour of the month – witness ROK’s recent announcement that it would be developing an on-demand streamed music service in concert with audio platform deployment company AMSi – and doubtless we will see still yet more downloadable apps offering streamed music subscriptions. Orange’s challenge in the UK is to differentiate itself from its competitors in a saturated market, and it has laid down a marker in this regard with Monkey and its music. The next question is how will its rivals respond? To what extent will they ape Monkey? Ape? Yes? No? I’ll get my coat…