Emap trials reverse mobile billing with new magazine

Media company Emap will begin a trial of a reverse billing text message service to coincide with the launch of a new magazine...

Media company Emap will begin a trial of a reverse billing text message service to coincide with the launch of a new magazine title next month.

To date, reverse billing - where mobile users pay to receive rather than send SMS (Short Message Service) information and revenue is shared between the content provider and mobile operator - has largely been restricted to news or sports alerts and consumer take-up has been low.

However, Emap's brands, which include FHM, Smash Hits and Kiss FM, could be strong enough to convince consumers to pay for content, according to Andrea Kilbourne, managing director of Emap Performance Online.

"The power of our brands and the strength of our editorial teams mean these services should pay for themselves," she said. "SMS is an ideal revenue stream for us as it is a language our target audience [people aged 16-34] can understand."

The new title, called Sneaks, is aimed at teenage girls. It will act as a trial for the reverse billing services before they are rolled out to Emap's other titles.

"We have to have a blueprint to make sure these services work," said Kilbourne. "Sneaks is going to be a very interactive magazine, with text-based voting and competitions, and we expect it to make an immediate impact."

Emap has already run a number of mobile marketing campaigns through brands such as Heat and Smash Hits to improve customer retention and raise brand awareness. These have now become a source of advertising revenue, whereby third parties can pay to make promotional offers to the customer database.

Demonstrating its commitment to the mobile medium, Emap last week signed a deal with mobile marketing firm Flytxt to roll out SMS activities across all its brands.

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