14 August 2009

Blue(tooth) Velvet

Advertising is big business nowadays. Ad agencies spent an infinitesimal amount of time fine-tuning their campaigns and ensuring that the right sort of advert is aired/played at the best time/to the most influential audience as possible.

How often have you been travelling by public transport, seen your mobile phone light up and looked to see someone wanting to pair with your phone through its Bluetooth portal? For the uninitiated, Bluetooth is a wireless connection that can be established between two devices at close range. Once connected, files, photos, ringtones etc. can be sent. I've never liked the idea of pairing my phone with that of a complete stranger, so always refuse the connection requests, though the people at Blue Onboard think otherwise.

For it is this company who approached Eastleigh-based bus operator Velvet last month about installing software aboard a selection of its vehicles that would connect to passengers' phones through Bluetooth, with very pointed advertisements for them to view (and hopefully take advantage of). After all, what else is there to do while on the bus into town?

Importantly, these Bluetooth-sent messages will be very specific according to the time of day, bus route and location. Routes carrying a much younger demographic will, we understand, receive more student-based adverts.

Velvet's MD Phil Stockley said that he welcomed trails of this type of advertising aboard his buses since he's chosen a very striking livery (at great cost!) and doesn't want external adverts stuck over those now all-too-familiar Best Impressions swirls and swoops (see a spoof here). Adverts that don't actually exist in poster form certainly enable the livery-conscious operator go about its business without the worry of adverts for, say, VW Polos detracting its company's carefully cultivated image.

"...it's about adding a differentiator to our service," says Stockley. He is right, though I know many people either share my view on attempts to connect via Bluetooth to my phone as intrusion; do not have a Bluetooth-enabled phone (the iPhone, for example) or simply do not have a clue what the hell this post is about in the first place!

The make-or-break for this new ‘potential revenue stream’ will be the type of ads sent to passengers’ phones. If they offer genuine, gimmick-free reductions off popular items or venues then it wont take long for word of mouth to ensure that Velvet’s services are chosen over its competitors'. But if Blue Onboard’s evening adverts are to inform club-goers using Velvet’s buses that the Morning-After Pill is available from the following pharmacies, or lecture them on exactly what constitutes a unit of alcohol, success will never come. (GWB)

Click here
to visit Blue Onboard's website.