Forza Buongiorno At ten years old, Buongiorno is now a veteran of the mobile content space. So how has the company built on SMS joke services reinvented itself into a specialist that helps operators reduce churn? Tim Green quizzed Buongiorno’s UK and international MD Jürgen Reutter about the changing nature of the firm’s success… Buongiorno is probably still known as a B2C company. How accurate is that? Not very. We have a unique split between B2C and B2B, and they now bring in roughly 50 per cent of revenues each. The B2B operation is more than just supplying ringtones to operators, right? B2B has changed, it used to be music products and so on. Now it’s as likely to be based on loyalty systems to manage churn. Operators are looking at cutting operational costs and driving revenues from core services, so that’s an opportunity for us. If you take what we’ve done with O2 Top Up Surprises, that’s a good example (it gives subscribers rewards for topping up). We’ve taken it to Optus, TIM and others – and we see potential for it outside of mobile too. Buongiorno’s PeopleSound has over 600,000 users who can send messages and share pictures
Is traditional B2C dying? No, B2C is still very significant – revenues were up nine per cent in 2009. It’s growing in emerging markets, of course, but we’ve also seen growth in Germany, Spain and France, too. The market is changing in developed markets. But with our skills in customer acquisition, we’re well placed to move into those new areas. What are these new opportunities? Well, there’s the skill gaming market in Italy, for example, which we’re preparing to enter from September because of the change in regulation. We’re also rolling out Prize Clubs and Online Supercontests that are kind of mini-sweepstakes for mobile. We’ve already rolled them out in Africa. How about social media? It’s an area we’re committed to via two products. HelloTxt is the personal social networker that makes it easy to post text and media to separate accounts on multiple services. It can update over 50 social networking and self-publishing sites, and has 100,000 iPhone users. Then there’s Peoplesound, which lets people send messages and share photos to the circle of their 20 favourite friends. It has surpassed 600,000 users. 12 | June 2010 Mobile Entertainment
Is the trouble here that every new handset – MotoBlur, HTC Sense – ships with a version of these functions? I recognise that, but those products are all fixed to particular handsets, whereas ours can roll out across all of them. And there’s the option to white-label them, which is something that interests operators. Jürgen Reutter, Buongiorno’s UK and international MD
Any chance of them making money? I’d agree it’s hard to monetise social media. We plan to get reach first and then investigate ads and micro-payments. How does Buongiorno plan to move into the app space? HelloTxt is already on iPhone and Android and we’re set to launch Applistars in Spain and Mexico. This is effectively a launch pad for Buongiorno content on iPhone. We want to be in that space because all sorts of opportunities will arise, and we have the resources to meet them. But it’s important to remember just how significant the ‘old’ business still is. We have 130 service level agreements with operators and a potential two billion user reach. It puts the iPhone footprint into perspective.
Why isn’t Buongiorno more involved in the TV space through voting, polls and the like? To be honest, it was an option after we bought iTouch, but we dismissed that business and it was probably why revenues stalled a little in 2008. There are too many partners wanting a revenue share and too much regulation. It’s hard to make money. iTouch doubled our reach, but the TV part of it didn’t work out. Buongiorno has also made acquisitions in the ad/marketing space. How is that unit performing? Five per cent of revenues came from this area last year and 2010 looks very promising too, with 1Q2010 revenues growing 41.4 per cent year on year. We’re looking to develop the marketing and ad activity, not least because we are an advertiser so we know what works; we were Europe’s largest mobile advertiser last year (20 per cent of Buongiorno’s €55m spend was mobile). And we have our own AdMob style network called Buongiorno!Digital, which has picked up deals with advertisers like the one with celeb channel E!Entertainment. www.mobile-ent.biz
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