Beep! Beep! Free movie tickets up for grabs - Oct 30, 2007 (ST)

BackOct 30, 2007

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Beep! Beep! Free movie tickets up for grabs

Mobile users rush for promotion for new SMS-based ad service by SPH, M1.

By Chua Hian Hou
Oct 30, 2007
The Straits Times

THE fifth floor of Orchard Cineleisure was crammed yesterday with hundreds of MobileOne (M1) customers eager to claim free movie tickets, being given away in a promotion for a new SMS-based advertising service.

RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME: The first 100 M1 users to show the SMS alert yesterday each received a pair of free cinema tickets. The new advertising service locates potential customers who are near advertisers' outlets. Photo/ TERENCE TAN

The customers got the chance to win by being in the right place at the right time, thanks to the new service, which sends SMS ads to users in specific locations.

Just a few minutes earlier, they had been strolling around nearby malls such as Orchard Cineleisure, The Centrepoint, The Heeren Shops and Orchard OG.

That was when each of them received an SMS, saying that the first 100 customers to make their way to Cathay Cineleisure would get a pair of free movie tickets.

The event yesterday was the trade launch of the location- based advertising service by the publisher of The Straits Times, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), and M1. It goes live on Thursday.

The new advertising service uses the mobile phone network to check when potential customers of an advertiser are near one of the advertiser's outlets, and then sends them a message.

For instance, at an earlier trial by Andersen's of Denmark, one of the trial advertisers, shoppers at Plaza Singapura, Tanglin Mall and Great World City, where the premium ice-cream chain has outlets, received discount coupons.

The SMS coupons generated about 150 purchases, said Andersen's chief operations manager Sandra Phua.

SPH's interactive business unit's assistant vice-president, Mr Raymond Teoh, said that when the service is launched on Thursday, Citibank cardholders can expect to receive dining and shopping alerts from the bank.

SPH is currently in discussions with more than 10 other potential advertisers, he added. However, he declined to name them.

The service will send a user a maximum of two SMS messages a day, and four a week. Mr Teoh believes this is a 'tolerable limit' on SMS numbers.

Users can also choose to opt out of the service. This will be done within 10 working days of a person opting out, he said.

In earlier trials, only 0.25 per cent of recipients had opted out, testimony to the attractiveness of the service's offers, he said.

The service currently covers 64 malls in the Orchard Road shopping belt, from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapura.

Over time, SPH and its partner M1, which has already invested a six-figure sum in the infrastructure needed to support the service - will extend the areas covered to other heavily populated downtown and suburban areas.

These include Changi Airport, VivoCity, Ang Mo Kio Hub and even Serene Centre along Farrer Road and Coronation Plaza in Bukit Timah Road.

SPH is also currently 'exploring' the possibility of working with StarHub, Mr Teoh said.

Rival telco SingTel is also testing out a similar service, and is expected to launch its own product by next March.