Waiting to pay your bill in a restaurant? Don’t worry, you can now do it by phone

In a joint venture between PayPal and Pizza Express, the two companies will now let you pay your restaurant bill from your phone. No waiting for staff to bring your bill, you can do it from the table via your mobile. This is obviously a trial venture and the app is iPhone only, PayPal users only and Pizza Express only. That doesn’t seem to be a vast audience, but PayPal seem to be pretty confident of the popularity. The sentiment is certainly a good one, as Mark Angela, Chief Executive of PizzaExpress said in a joint press release with PayPal, “We knew there was no point just launching an app for the sake of it, so we waited until we had a system that could genuinely improve our customers’ experience of eating out at PizzaExpress.”

Shazam offers brands the opportunity to engage with audio

There’s more than one way to get a response on mobile from advertising. We’ve seen SMS widely used – over 30% of people in the UK have responded by SMS, we’ve seen great MMS campaigns. There’s also visual response. Brands keep plugging away at QR, and new image recognition technologies will take this forward. But what about audio as a response mechanism?

Last year Shazam, the music tagging software, tied up with Faithless in the UK to allow TV viewers to tag their ad taking them to their concert ticket buying page. Take That did something similar with their first single release from their new album. But it’s not just music acts, Shazam has now created tie-in’s with Honda on their video channel, and Strabucks. Both brands had a gamification element, where the tagging was used as part of a discover or treasure-hunt. In the case of Starbucks that was with SCVNGR.  Future brand tie-ins will include Paramount Pictures, P&G and Progressive insurance.

Shazam’s brand friendly approach means well may well see some exciting examples of audio-based consumer engagement.

More on Shazam’s brand offering here.

Accident Claims (PPI and other) SMS: why can’t they stop them?

Millions of people … in fact ten’s of millions of people in the UK have received unsolicited messages along the lines of ‘FREEMSG: Our records indicate that you may be entitled to £3750 for your accident … ‘. In my DMA capacity we have been working closely with the regulators, operators and SMS aggregators to both stop the messages and identify the culprits. Here are the answers to a few questions that I’m commonly asked about these:

Who’se Doing It?
The exact identity has been very hard to establish (more on why that is, later on) but they are commonly called ‘Claims Farmers’. They solicit leads which are then sold on to lawyers and other accident claims management firms who work on a no-win no-fee basis.

Why are They Doing It?
In short, for the money. They are paid by the solicitors for each lead they send. It would seem that enough people reply to these texts, and from there, they find enough people who have a legitimate claim to make money.

Are they trying to defraud people?
No they are not. What they are doing in terms of the SMS is not legal, but once passed through to solicitors as a claim everything is above board. They are not trying to elicit money from people they are texting.

But surely it’s against the law?
It is. In fact we have identified seven different pieces of legislation which are being breached. However that’s part of the problem. They are enforced by different regulators.

Why can’t anyone catch them?
The problem is that they refuse to identify their company. By the time it reaches the solicitor or claims company the lead is perfectly legitimate.

Can’t you trace them through the numbers they use?
Unfortunately it’s not that simple. The only numbers they use in the SMS are pay as you go SIM cards. They aren’t registered to anyone.

Surely the mobile operators can stop them?
They’re trying, but it’s proving difficult. As the spammers are using pay as you go SIM cards (hooked up to a PC via a SIM bank), they send a batch of messages, then switch to another SIM card. The operators are blocking the numbers as soon as they spot the messages, however it’s quite difficult to find them. There are 9 billion text messages sent every months in the UK so monitoring them all is not an easy task.

What about the call centres that handle the claims?
The problem is that the callers refuse to identify themselves. As with the mobile SIMS the numbers used frequently changed, and subscriber information is often incorrect. Where numbers have been identified, the call centre claims that they were not the ones who sent the SMS. The typical response is ‘we represent a network of over 3000 companies’.

So if it’s not the operators or the call centres, how about the solicitors, surely they can identify the culprits?
It is a requirement under the Ministry of Justice rules that solicitors know where a lead has come from. That lead must also be obtained in a legal way. Solicitors have provided the name of the companies who supplied the leads in the past. However, once the companies are contacted they no longer have the information as they do not keep records on file on the grounds of ‘data protection’.

But surely the regulators know who is sending these and why can’t they prosecute them?
They have a good idea who they are. However, to make a prosecution requires evidence. As the spammers are hiding their identity, finding the evidence is difficult.

Where are they getting the numbers from? Surely it’s possible to find the people who give them the mobile numbers?
Identifying the source of the numbers is difficult. They are not getting them from any legitimate sources. There’s no evidence that they are coming from the operators – they are very protective of that data and risk prosecution if they fail to do so. It is possible that the numbers come from less than reputable websites. The most likely answer is that they are using number generation. There are lists of all the UK operator codes, so all they need to do is to generate the last six digits. Given that they are using PAYG SIMS with unlimited texts it’s not an expensive way to do it.

What about the emergency services? There were reports that some of them had provided numbers of accident victims?
There is a newspaper report about this, but according to the Ministry of Justice who investigated the matter it is only a handful of numbers. Also, this information would be sold directly to the claims companies and not the claims farmers who are trying to create the leads through these messages.

So what’s the solution?

First and foremost, even if you have had an accident (or are in debt or have a PPI claim), don’t respond to the message, even to request STOP. If you need to make a claim then, only use an accredited company. For accident claims, there is a list on the MOJ website https://www.claimsregulation.gov.uk/search.aspx If consumers stop replying to the messages then they will stop doing it. There’s no point unless they get their leads.

As for catching the spammers, there is a lot of work going on between the regulators, mobile operators and SMS aggregators. They are improving the lines of communication so that information can be passed back much more quickly. The operators are now trying to cooperate more closely to address the problem of the fast-changing SIM cards.

In the meantime, if you have received a message along the lines described here, then forward the message and number it came from to the MOJ on info@claimsregulation.gov.uk or the ICO on http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

UK Smartphone Demographics Analysed

Many people want to know what smartphones people use. It’s both interesting and for many in mobile marketing, very useful. The current figures based on information published by ICM and Comscore are as follows:

Android 13%
BlackBerry 10%
iPhone 9%
Nokia (proprietary and Symbian OS) 30%
Samsung (proprietary) 19%
Sony Ericcson (proprietary and Symbian OS) 8%
Others (HTC, LG, Motorola non-Android) 10%
Windows Mobile 1%

However, a more interesting approach is to look at who is using them the most. The following shows the top handsets and who is doing what the most:

% share of UK market Largest Gender Group Largest Age Group Largest Income Bracket Used third party Apps in the last month Used mobile Web in the last month
iPhone 9% 57% men 25-34 (33%) £30-£45k (25%) 50% 91%
BlackBerry 10% 53% women 18-24 (21%) £15-£30k (22%) 26% 80%
Android 13% 62% men 25-34 (29%) £15-£30k (30%) 37% 86%

HTC Desire: currently the most popular Android phone in the UK

Within each manufacturer the top used handsets are as follows:

Apple

iPhone 3GS  -32%
iPhone 3 -24%
iPhone 4 -21%

BlackBerry

Curve -37%
Bold -19%

Android

HTC Desire  -30%
Samsung Galaxy -15%

For some observers the figures are unsurprising. However it’s worth pointing out a few key facts. iPhone is a premium product so their largest demographic is in a higher income bracket than their competitors. BlackBerry has BBM. That means it has appeal to both a younger and is skewed towards women. Android (and BlackBerry) have cheaper models than the iPhone and thus appeal to lower incomes. Android also has a geekier reputation, so it tend to be more popular with men. iPhone users do the most of everything – they download more apps (nearly twice as many as BlackBerry) and browse the web more.

In the world of mobile strategy I often talk about brands being able to find their customers in the mobile landscape – figures like these demonstrate how that can be done. It seems though that mobile is more polarised than other technologies. For example, could you see if your customer base uses Toshiba laptops more than any other PC? Sure it may skew more towards one demographic more than another, but there’s no polarisation that you see in mobile.

The reason for that is simple. Mobile is more than just a choice of technology. Choices of lifestyle and identity also come into it. If you’re a teenager (especially a girl) and you don’t have a BlackBerry then you may end up out of the loop socially. If you work in the media then you probably want you colleague to see you have an iPhone. Our phones are with us all the time. Our friends and colleagues see what we use. Choices are, therefore, influenced as much by fashion as they are by functionality.

NFC? 91% of People Don’t Know What it Is

What does this tell us about contactless payments? Not much, according to the study!

A new study by YouGov has found that just 23% of consumers want to make payments with their phone, instead of cash and 20% said they preferred chip and pin. 91% of those asked didn’t know what NFC (Near Field Communications) and 70% had no idea what a mobile wallet was. So, whilst many people in the mobile industry are excited about NFC (or contactless, or mobile wallets or TapTap if you’re Orange or whatever we’re calling it this week …) it would seem that consumer adoption will be a major barrier. Contactless technologies are widely in use: door entry is cards; travel cards, such as London’s Oyster; and it is in many credit/debit cards. In spite of that, 61% of those who have the technology already never use it.

That’s a somewhat disappointing set of figures given the vast spend on rolling out these technologies, not to mention the considerable sums that Barclays have thrown at their TV advertising and iPhone games. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done to get consumers to both understand and be reassured by contactless. People whizzing down giant roller coasters clearly isn’t doing the trick. Perhaps something more direct, such as shop assistants suggesting that customers use contactless (it’s faster) or even rewards or money off for doing so. It’s in the banks, shops and operators interests to shift to mobile-based NFC, so why not make it worth the consumer’s while?

More on the YouGov study here

Former T-Mobile Employees Fined for Stealing Customer Data

Fines totally £73,000 against two former T-mobile employees raises some interested issues about data protection prosecutions. The two were fined for theft of customer data. This took the form stealing customer data, including contract renewal dates, which was then passed to a company set up by the former T-Mobile marketing manager. There was an attempt to launder the data, with the addition of other non-T-Mobile customers, which was then sold on to marketing companies. Over half a million of such records were sold. Many T-Mobile customers will have experienced calls, usually from abroad, claiming to be from the company and asking about their contract renewal.

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) took the lead in the prosecution. An interesting aspect of this was that the fines were made under the Proceeds of Crime Act for confiscation costs, rather than a fine under the DPA (Data Protection Act). The culprits received sentences up to 18 months, which were suspended on the condition of the fines being paid. It would seem that the ICO and the courts are now taking the issue of data protection seriously. Prior to the end of May this year, the maximum fine for a breach of PECR was £5000, and it would seem a similar amount under the DPA. Since 25th May 2011, fines under PECR and DPA are now £500,000.

There is no connection between this case and the epidemic of accident claims texts; the stolen data was specific to T-Mobile whereas the claims texts appear to be across all of the UK operators. Although the T-Mobile case involved theft of information (DPA) and the accident claims messages are a breach of permissions (PECR) it is good to see that the courts are taking these kinds of breaches more seriously.

Gowalla Promotes Farmers’ Markets

Whilst their main SoLo competitor, Foursquare is doing a good job at connecting with brands, Gowalla is working with  have taken a socially responsible approach to their social network. Make Time for Change is an initiative supported by Fridgidaire and organic food enthusiast, Jennifer Garner. Users are encouraged to share information and tips about local farmers markets. In return, for each tip, Fridgidaire will donate $1 to Save The Children’s CHANGE campaign to provide nutritional food to African Children.

Social Location campaigns to drive for social responsibility and brand charity donations have been seen previously in Foursquare (CNN’s Healthy Eating Badge) and Facebook Places (Argos’ Teenage Cancer Trust donations).

More here on the Gowalla/Fridgidaire campaign