Tomato Plus Seems to be a Winner

Back in October, I posted about Tomato Plus, which might be described as a sort of Blyk for existing operators. It was launched on the Vip Croatia network in conjunction with the service/platform’s developers OutThere Media.

The basic consumer offering is getting 50 free sms and 50 free minutes of calling every month, “in return” for receiving 5 or 6 sms or mms ads per day. I say “in return” because it doesn’t seem as if the consumer feels as if they’re putting up with unwanted ads, as this might imply. Quite the opposite in fact, with research showing that 92% of subscribers are very happy and most ads having high response rates – even higher than Blyk claim, which is already impressive.

Unlike Blyk, Tomato Plus doesn’t restrict itself to a specific age demographical, being open to all. Perhaps not surprisingly, this has led to a lot of uptake outside the 18-24 age group, with 30-something “Holly Homemakers” being key respondents.

Out There Media reported response rates of up to 75%, with an especially impressive result from McDonalds, where an overall sales increase of 12% was generated as a result of one of the campaigns. I guess that’ll mean that they’ll be doing it again, then.

MMS has proven to be particularly popular as a medium and increases response rates too. As Kirstin Trikalitis said “At last we’ve found a use for MMS!”. This shouldn’t surpise MobHappy readers, as we’ve often drawn a parellel with MMS and HTML email – most users of full featured HTML email are businesses, not consumers.

But the punchline for Tomato Plus is that it hasn’t cannibalised ARPU – in fact, Vip Croatia has seen an increase in revenue as a result of this product. As such, I’m sure that this concept will be adopted by other operators following this successful trial.

The open question is where this leaves Blyk as a stand alone brand. The key issue with Blyk has always been that if the concept worked, it could be adopted by operators themselves as all it really takes to replicate is an existing customer base and cash, neither of which any operator in the world lacks. Sure, there’s some know-how in terms of creating the ads in the first place, but since advertising by its very nature is in the public domain, it’s not going to be hard to learn the key lessons pretty quickly.

As far as Blyk is concerned though, I’ve been puzzled for a while about why, with plenty of funding and a successful model, they haven’t expanded like crazy while the door of opportunity has been open. Because it’s now surely going to start to close as operators take up the idea, with or without Out There Media’s platform.

I hope Blyk prove me wrong, as the pioneers in the space, but speed of expansion seems critical at this point.

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