Limbo 41414 Makes Contests Mobile

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Lifetime Television recently found a way to engage viewers through mobile technology while increasing ratings and ensuring a positive brand experience.

Limbo 41414 hosts live auctions for the New York-based broadcaster where the lowest unique bid wins a grand prize. There is an incentive for viewers to watch the station and sign up their friends.

"Don't change the world of marketing for marketers," said Jonathan Linner, co-founder/CEO of Limbo 41414, San Mateo, CA. "Use mobile to make what they do better."

Most advertisers do some sort of sweepstakes or game, he said.

"The truth is that most of those games are not participated in by a large number of people," Mr. Linner said.

The auctions through text messaging let viewers play instantly using a cell phone. For the Lifetime Sunday Sweepstakes, games take place on Sunday nationwide from 1 to 7 p.m. EST. Winners receive a $5,000 check toward a plasma HDTV and home theater system.

Each time players bid for the prize, they receive a message about the current bids, with hints to help them win. Wrapped within this message are "did you know?" facts about the brand, in this case, Lifetime.

Lifetime also broadcasts tips throughout its Sunday programming in order to keep players watching. Ratings increase when an auction is being run.

Messages usually are sent as SMS or short mobile service text messaging. Limbo also can support multimedia messaging including images, audio, video and rich text.

The game can be played on 19 wireless networks throughout the United States and Canada including Verizon, T-Mobile, Cingular and Sprint. In some cases Limbo is funded through the wireless networks. The brand may participate at no cost depending on the campaign.

"The big thing for all the cell networks is that they expand data service," Mr. Linner said.

Broadcasters like Lifetime, Fox and CBS use Limbo auctions. The company also works with marketers like Procter & Gamble Co. and food chains like Burger King.

"Pretty much anywhere you would see a sweepstakes, this technique could be used," Mr. Linner said.


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