Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sprint Fails in a NOW Moment

NBC’s Bravo network has been offering SMS/MMS engagements for some time now but not being a fan of that particular network I’ve never looked into what they were doing. During a conversation with a colleague about MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) I was told I could experience it for myself by sending WIVES to 27286 to start the sign-up process – one that turned out to be a bit painful – and begin receiving text and video messages – another often disappointing experience.

Naturally, I tried sending WIVES to the short code, presumably to engage with the Real Housewives television show (I’ve never watched it and never will, to be honest. From what I’ve seen it looks ridiculous.). However, nothing happened. Nothing at all. I got absolutely no response from my text message. Grrr. Committed, I went to on my computer. (Mistake! That’s a scam site being run by RewardsFlow LLC who appears to be harvesting both email and mobile numbers. Likely one source of the growing problem with SMS spam) Eventually, I found, which had a form for mobile sign-up:

image: Bravo Mobile Web Form

Entering my mobile number and clicking ‘Sign Up’ resulted in:

image: Bravo Web Form Submitted

This appears broken and I got nothing on my phone.


Looking around the page I noticed ‘mobile’ in one of the nav menus:image: Bravo Menu

Clicking ‘mobile’ I get to a page that lists out the “Mobile Clubs”:
image: Bravo Mobile RH

The first one is Housewives Hub with instructions to text WIVES to 27286. But I already tried this and nothing happened! Fine. I tried again. This time it worked and I successfully signed up for ‘wifey gossip & news’ (yay?). Interestingly, the confirmation message said, “Sponsored by Sprint” at the end.  I didn’t realize, however, that I was due to receive more than I was expecting.

The following day I received one message as expected. It was an offer to play a game to test my knowledge of ‘Camille Grammer’.  I didn’t play. The other message was a surprise. You can see it below. I have since received them fairly regularly. It appears that when I signed up for WIVES I was also signed up for ‘The NOW Moment’ (apparently a play on Sprint’s NOW Network slogan). This was sneaky. Are these messages related to the WIVES stuff at all?
image: NBC Bravo SMS

The one above says ‘Online Dating’. Are they trying to hook me up? A more recent message said, “Modeling Tips”. Always willing to give things a try I tapped the link. Here’s the result on my Nexus S on the Sprint network:
image: NBC Bravo WAP page

Uh. Hello? What is this? It looks like the details of a video file of some sort. No video played and there was no link to tap to watch a video. Was the video supposed to accompany the SMS (making it an MMS)? The irony is that the service is sponsored by Sprint and yet it doesn’t work on my Sprint device.

I’ve received three of these ‘NOW Network’ messages and all three do the same thing.



What could have saved this campaign?

Well, this isn’t so much a campaign as it is a regular part of the Bravo TV content offering, which is great, we all know mobile is here to stay.

I suspect the mobile offering from NBC/Universal is suffering from neglect. It appears that is has been awhile since anyone tested the program and processes across media (mobile vs. Web), across mobile operators, and on a multitude of devices. Testing is of course critical for any new efforts but is also vital to sustaining an ongoing program. Not to get too technical but shit happens and it always seems to happen when you’re not looking.

Bravo and Singlepoint (the mobile application provider in this case) really need to commit to scheduled, regular testing.

American Express Drops Guard on Mobile

‘Tis the season for gift-giving so it isn’t surprising to see American Express pushing a sweepstakes where gift card recipients have a chance at $100,000 cash prize. This large ‘carrot’ appears to be the incentive for shoppers to purchase gift cards at local shopping malls to give to their friends and family. Though, it turns out the giver isn’t entered for the prize, just the recipient. I would have thought it would be the other way around.

I’m not a fan of the gift card. I like to put a bit of thought into gift-giving. Still, I was curious about this promotion from Amex. I happened to be at the Customer Service desk at a local mall and saw a small flyer for the sweepstakes. Other signs/posters were seemingly everywhere but this little 3in x 5in flyer, unlike the other materials, included a QR code so I grabbed one.

image: Amex Sweeps Flyer.

Apparently as a recipient of one of these cards I’m supposed to go to the URL provided or scan the QR code – though there were ZERO instructions as you can see.  But I know what to do and scanning the code, my phone’s browser is opened and I get:

image: Amex Bad Cert

Security? What’s going on here? Is this site not safe for me to visit? Should I view the certificate? This IS American Express, right?? Forget it.



What could have saved this campaign?

There were two things you probably noticed in this entry:

1) No instructions to accompany the QR code.  While QR scanning continues to increase it is still only familiar to very few, around 10% of mobile users.  Always include instructions.

2) There is a problem with the security certificate for the mobile site. This is really a very silly error on behalf of American Express. As a financial services company Amex should always have clean security certificates. If there’s one place you don’t want people wondering about security it’s on sites that have to do with money.

As it turns out, once past the security warning you are taken to a decent mobile site where – as a card recipient – you need to enter your card number in order to enter the $100k sweepstakes. This is likely the reason for the secure site.

Ignoring Details – iLoop Renders SMS Campaign Useless

This is a guest post over on, who offers a superior self-service interface for marketers who want to implement an SMS marketing effort.  Here’s an excerpt:

“As someone in the mobile marketing industry, I’m always signing up for things on my mobile phone. I’ll scan QR codes, click on URLs, and sign up for SMS marketing programs. Not long ago I signed up for iLoop Mobile’s ILOOPDEALS which is a program that allows you to “see mobile marketing in action”. It’s a good idea, but as it turns out, can be disastrous if not done correctly..”  Continue reading…

ABC Mobile: Lost In The Mobile Abyss

Like many smartphone users, I like to watch videos on my phone when I have a few minutes of down-time. (There are 200 million mobile video playbacks every day on YouTube.) I’ll even watch full episodes of TV shows if I’m going to be sitting somewhere for awhile, like on the bus or in a waiting room. It was the hope for access to full episodes of The View (just kidding) that had me typing in on my computer to see what’s available.

At the ABC website there was a menu link for “Mobile”.  It looked promising, I mean, what other content would ABC be offering via mobile if not video? Clicking the link I was treated to the following page and there it was, Mobile Video On Demand! Nice.

Now, how do I get the vids? I don’t see an iTunes icon or little green Android that would point me to a mobile app. Checking the fine print I see that the service is indeed available on Sprint (my carrier) and, “To find out how to access ABC Mobile Video On Demand by texting ABCTV to 22288.”  Simple enough, right? Nope. Here’s what I got back; a message from Sprint:

“9230: Message failed. Shortcode may have expired or shortcode texting may be blocked on your account. Msg 1051″

What the..? How do I get the VOD? This short code was my only option!

FAIL #1.

I try the other mobile ‘offerings’ with increasing frustration.

Text Alerts:

FAIL #2: No list of shows to get alerts on! I’m offered the opportunity to figure it out for myself.

Live TV:

FAIL #3: No way to get the service, which appears to be only available on my carrier.

This is starting to get silly.  As a last resort and with little real hope, I pick up my phone and tap into the browser. Perhaps they have a mobile site that will help me. Nope. It’s their full-site:

image: on a phone

actual size

Not pretty, and the video links take me to the full-on video player. I try adding ‘/mobile’ to the URL:

image: Mobile

actual size

Ugh. Same thing, a non-mobile site. It doen’t even pinch/zoom very well. In fact, the site crashed my phone’s browser forcing it to close. Neat.

FAIL #4.


What could have saved this campaign?

There is really only one thing to talk about here. I wasn’t able to actually get any of the content so all I can review is the way ABC Mobile is making their content available (or not available as the case may be).

1) Using a short code is a great way to allow users to discover mobile content but it should work on all carriers you claim the content is available on. In this case the content seems to be available on Sprint but the SOLE access method, a short code, is not.  ABC should remove Sprint from the carrier list or figure out how to get them to provision the short code.

2) When promoting content, in this case alerts and live TV, ALWAYS provide a simple and clear call-t0-action so interested users can actually engage on their device. Marketing 101, really.

3) Create a mobile web site and detect mobile devices that come to your top-level domain. This doesn’t have to be complex. A simple mobile landing page with instructions on how to get mobile content would be better than directing to a non-mobile site with rich content and flash elements.

To summarize, it appears the mobile efforts at ABC Mobile are fragmented, lack coordination and and exhibit little understanding of how to engage a mobile user.