Features: December 16th, 2005

Greater London Authority Gets Mobile


Mobile phones are an effective response to the initiative by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to get local councils to make their services available to the wider general public. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is ahead of the game compared with most councils and one of the few that has made serious progress in this area.

The GLA selected Incentivated to provide the mobile service because it has the tools and technology to deliver and receive messages and images to and from mobile phone owners in London. The Incentivated system is able to validate email addresses from a text message and connect to four main networks.

Once Incentivated had won the contract to provide the Mayor and GLA with mobile interactivity solutions the next stage was to talk through each idea and determine whether a mobile solution could be found, and, just as importantly, whether the user experience would be simple enough for mass market appeal. The GLA advised that it would be using mobile for four initiatives straight away and that more would follow in quick succession:

The State of London Debate

Londoners were able to order free tickets for the annual mayoral conference, which took place on 25 June 2005, by texting their house number, postcode and number of tickets requested to a dedicated short text code; 62967 (spelling ‘Mayor’ on the keypad). Accurate data capture was essential as was the rapid response rate offered by mobile and the facility to maximise attendance through the automated ‘appointment reminder’ system. Integrating with the Post Office’s Postcode Address File Iris checks the request from the attendee and forms a full postal address for subsequent fulfilment. To avoid room for mistakes the attendee receives a text message by reply containing their full address and confirmation of the number of tickets ordered. The day before the event all those who requested tickets by mobile, or who gave them a mobile number and asked for a reminder, were sent a text message alert with details of the time and address of the conference.

Of two thousand tickets given away, 10% were ordered by text message and a further 15% of attendees asked for a reminder text message the day before. For both consumers and the GLA the costs of sending and processing the text message requests were less than other response methods. The event was a sell-out and the GLA has gone on to use the service for similar events such as the ‘Kulture to Couture’ fashion show and the People’s Question Time (a chance to quiz the Mayor and London Assembly as well as voice concerns – some of which are submitted by text message in advance). The cost saving to GLA worked out at £0.57 per entry.

The One London Campaign

Mayor Ken Livingstone’s campaign was designed to underline the way that Londoners have united since the terrorist bomb attacks. Ken Livingstone said that he wanted Londoners to ‘Show their support and help promote the message by joining the “One London” campaign Members of the public would be able to support the campaign through a number of ways, including downloading the graphic onto their mobile phone.’ To receive a wallpaper image of “One London” mobile users need to text LONDON to 62967.

The campaign costs would be covered by the premium rate SMS service and with 13-25 year olds a major group for personalising handsets it was agreed that this would ensure a huge response. Two mobile networks, Three and O2, picked up on the campaign and promoted it on their websites and mobile Internet portals. As a result the majority of 3,000 participants so far came from these networks. The campaign also spread by word of mouth – there was no formal advertising of the service – and it continues to attract support to date.

Recycle For London

The text service from Recycle for London is the first of its kind in the country. Residents in the capital are able to request details of when their recycling is collected from their kerbside or where their nearest recycling facilities are, all by texting RECYCLE followed by their full postcode to the number 63131, being the last digits of the RfL telephone number. There is also a direct link in the text message to their local recycling helpline so residents in each London borough can order their recycling box or bag immediately if they have not yet got one. The service is available across all the mobile networks and handles the vagaries of the recycling schemes in each borough, intelligently integrating into the text message the different materials collected as well as borough contact details. Where possible a single reply is sent to the consumer; where this cannot be done then two messages will be sent.

The campaign was launched on 12th September and in the first month 2,600 people participated. Of these 67% were returned information about a kerbside collection and the rest received information about their locat bring-bank. Initial promotion was via a small network of bus shelter 6-sheet advertising panels and a series of five feature articles in Metro newspaper. Further promotion of the service is planned over the coming year including direct mail and additional newspaper advertising.

Safer Travel for London

The “Know what you’re getting into” initiative first started in 2002 with the launch of the Mayor’s Safer Travel at Night advertising campaign, warning Londoners of the dangers of minicab touts. This initiative is a joint venture between the GLA, TfL and the Metropolitan Police. Initially there was no way for Londoners to find out from their mobile phone, while out and about, whether a minicab company was licensed or indeed where the nearest ones were.

Londoners can find out the telephone numbers of two licensed minicab companies, local to where they are, by texting HOME to 60835 (the TfL number, which spells 60TFL on the keypad) or 62967 (spelling MAYOR).  When a member of the public texts in, their mobile network passes on the time of the request, the mobile number that was used, any other content in the text message and the location of the cell in which the sender is. The location of the cell is the grid reference of the mast owned by the sender’s network that is in communication with the sender’s handset. This is then compared with the live database of licensed minicabs and a 160-character text message composed and sent by reply.

“Within a few days of launch the minicab service had become the most popular of the Transport for London mobile services” Jon White, Senior Marketing Planner, Transport for London

The campaign was launched on 20th September and in the first three weeks 4,000 people participated, resulting in details of 252 different licensed minicab companies being returned. There has been a series of cinema ads and also name-checks on Heart FM during launch week. Promotional teams will be used to hand out credit card sized instructions in popular areas and washroom media is being booked in bars and restaurants for the run up to Christmas.

The versatility of the system

Incentivated’s mobile marketing platform iris had already been built before the GLA win, but finessing requested by the client and feedback from participants of the initiatives above has led to continuous development of the solution.

With a single interface that can be used on any PC iris enables two-way interaction with customers’ mobile phones, enabling clients to respond immediately to promotional opportunities, as well as send one or more text or picture messages at a time. iris enables detailed campaign tracking through its advanced administration tools. Messages can be sent using MMS, WAP Push, SMS and email, from short-codes (i.e 60835) or alpha-numerical originators (GLA) and other mobile data services are added when required.

The range of functionality in iris includes:

  • ‘Find My Nearest’ – A system that links the customer to the nearest landmark using ‘Location Based Services’ or a postcode file.

  • ‘Ticket Request by SMS’ – Allows customers to order brochures or tickets to be posted to them by texting their house number and postcode. Developed for the London Debate initiative.

  • ‘eBrochure Request by SMS’ – allows customers to request full colour emails to be sent to them by responding by text message to traditional advertising, e.g. poster or radio, with their email address.

  • ‘Text & Win’ – for running sales promotions entered by text message (e.g. either instant win or prize draw).

  • ‘CMSi’ – for delivering free or paid for mobile phone content, such as screensavers, music or video clips. Suited to brand building advertising or product launch, CMSi formats the content for the different handset characteristics and limits file sizes for the differences between the networks and also whether standard or 3G service.

  • ‘Broadcast’ – for sending large numbers of text messages, picture messages (MMS), WAP Pushes (mobile internet) or emails, including free-to-receive and premium rate services in UK and globally.

About Incentivated

Founded in 2001, Incentivated is a mobile marketing agency that provides software for simple integrated marketing activities and campaign management services where the need is more complicated.

In addition Incentivated has a range of sector-specific applications for mobile customer service and mobile commerce objectives. Mobile customer service enhances existing customer service processes by adding the mobile channel as an additional option for consumers. Incentivated’s mobile commerce platform allows organisations to offer secure transaction processing, collection of payments by PSMS and content delivery to the handset.

More information is available at: www.incentivated.com