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Direct & Integrated Marketing Roundtable

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I love my iphone, AT&T and American Idol but...

...i don't know about this one.

Not sure if you all heard but AT&T got in a bit of trouble for texting people the day before American Idol's premiere on January 13, 2009.

On the 12th of January I received a text on my iphone from American Idol (AT&T is a sponsor) telling me to tune in tomorrow night for their premiere. As one who teaches integrated marketing courses and digital content at NYU, I thought "cool." I have to admit, I did not stop to think about their targeting of the message and if I was the right demo. Shame on me. I was just thrilled at getting a promotional text with my new iphone I got for Christmas.

Let’s now go forward two days to the 14th of January -- one day after the premiere of Idol. I was reading the “Technology Section” of the NYTimes.com page, when I noticed that AT&T was being blasted for sending out 75 million American Idol text messages. Again I thought “cool, I was the recipient of one of those messages.”

Then I thought wait a minute what is going on here. Should I be mad also?

In AT&T’s defense, they say they only sent the text messages to heavy texters or those that voted in the past.

This got me to thinking. Did I fall into either of those categories? Not really. And, let me explain why.

First, while I do watch Idol on occasion, I am by no means an avid fan. After all I am 47.

Second, I am NOT a heavy texter….yet. Give me time. I just got my iphone. I think I am on my way.

Third, while it is true I did vote before, it was season one and I believe it was on our land line and not our cell phone. (I voted for Kelly of course.)

So, AT&T and Idol lucked out with me given I live and breath this stuff. I wasn’t mad. However, they certainly made a few others upset and rightly so perhaps.

So the lesson here is target wisely and make sure our mobile messages are relevant.

Here is a possible select I might have suggested they test:
  • Voted in at least 3 of the last 4-5 seasonsror
  • Heavy texter and voted but not that frequently or recentlyor
  • Heavy texter and in the right demo, with the message clearly stating why they are getting this notice

In the mobile world we marketers should err on the side of being cautious. If we are not really sure, then hold off. We must remember that mobile devices are a bit more personal than a PC. A marketer’s message must be more relevant, timely and targeted….unless you are sending it to a professor at NYU named Perry.

The NY Times link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/technology/14idol.html?th&emc=th
Perry

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