Playboy’s European mobile product will offer video clips, mobile TV and games
Understanding global consumer trends and the new digital movement, the Playboy Media Group has a particularly large mission – to deliver the Playboy experience to anyone, anytime, anywhere, and in a format and product-set that its audience demands.
To accomplish this goal, Playboy distributes its products globally, with a strong focus on regional differences and local nuances to deploy successful strategies.
“As one of the most iconic consumer brands in the world, we constantly challenge ourselves to offer more interactive experiences for our customers across all platforms,” said Ed Lang, senior vice president and general manager of mobile and international online at Playboy Enterprises, New York.
“Our target audience demands anytime, anywhere, on-demand and on-the-go delivery of sexy, sophisticated and stylish products and services that reflect the depth and breadth of the Playboy brand,” he said.
“We target existing customers seeking an exciting and unique mobile experience and new consumers who are interactive with social media and digital forms of expression.”
Another road to the Playboy Mansion
In North America and in the United States specifically, Playboy has been working hard to extend its brand onto the mobile platform. The company has been aggressively pursuing a multi-pronged strategy toward this end.
Playboy Mobile has launched several new programs nationwide that deliver content through both proven and emerging mobile-distribution channels.
The company has focused much of its efforts on generation “D” [digital] consumers ages 18-24.
Making a scene
That focus includes direct-to-consumer products, premium and ad-supported service offerings and new content and programming.
“We plan to extend offerings from our domestic Playboy franchises and media divisions, all edited for mobile, as well as produce new programming developed specifically for the mobile device and on-the-go audiences,” Mr. Lang said.
“This focus has broadened our heritage-rich brand’s reach created by our magazine and television properties,” he said.
“By creating new and engaging lifestyle-focused content and programming, delivered in new ways, we have exposed more facets of the Playboy brand and created a new, loyal and active user-base.”
In September 2007 Playboy Mobile launched an ad-supported, lifestyle-inspired WAP site.
It all began when the brand realized that it needed to move beyond just premium content sales through other channels. It launched the WAP site, delivering a variety of content offerings including the best of Playboy’s TV, print, online and international content and programming.
Playboy got together with mobile site developer and ad network Quattro Wireless to deliver a back-end technology that could support its development and delivery needs.
The site launched last fall with a full suite of non-nude, lifestyle-based content. Within the first 45 days, Playboy exceeded all of its launch metrics.
Playboy sold the majority of its ad inventory, attracted more than 2 million visitors and delivered 60,000-plus daily impressions.
Mobile site advertisers include Sony Pictures, DirectTV and Lionsgate Films.
In spring 2008 Playboy invested further in its WAP offering, developing and delivering an advanced user-interface – an optimized version for iPhones. It also launched new content offerings, such as more original mobile programming, videos and other multimedia assets.
“We plan to increase our promotional offerings to our sponsors and advertisers,” Mr. Lang said.
“These include the addition of branded microsites, sponsor-specific premium content delivery and sophisticated messaging solutions, all expected to be available by Q4 of this year,” he said.
Prior to that, in February 2008, Playboy Mobile had launched the Miss Playboy Mobile nationwide model search.
Playboy Mobile invited women, 18 and older, to register and build online profiles in their quest to be crowned the inaugural Miss Playboy Mobile 2008.
The contest received more than 900 entrants for the competition within the first week and launched a four-week promotion with 100 girls.
Selected entrants were encouraged to promote themselves to friends and fans through their social-networking profiles, both on their own and by leveraging a promotional widget tool created and launched by Playboy Mobile.
Nine finalists were selected and flown to Las Vegas for a finale event held at the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa located in the Palms Casino Resort.
Seattle stunner Amber Jay, 25, won the 2008 crown, a $5,000 cash-prize and a professional photo shoot at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
Soon after, in April 2008, Playboy Mobile launched the Playboy Audience Network.
The company announced a suite of digital partnerships introducing the Playboy Audience Network (PAN), which initially includes YouTube, Break, Veoh, Howcast and Metacafe.
“This is a deliberate strategic effort to expand our existing audience into greater demographics and networks by making our content, particularly video, available in more places online,” Mr. Lang said.
“On the mobile front, we launched mPAN with an initial content deal with MixerCast, a social-media marketing tool and services provider, who also created our Miss Playboy Mobile social-media widget,” he said.
Additionally, Playboy partnered with mywaves, a leading mobile video destination, to deliver Playboy lifestyle-inspired video content.
Mywaves is Playboy’s first ad- supported mobile video distribution deal to handle syndication of a content channel. Similar deals will be announced later this year.
Playboy Mobile measures the effectiveness of its mobile initiatives, considering metrics such as unique visitors, overall impressions, views of multimedia content, sales and downloads, as well as via brand awareness among consumers and media.
“Playboy Mobile’s 2008 strategy is to extend the Playboy brand to a broader audience via mobile, demonstrate the depth of the brand through its existing and growing lifestyle offerings, and enhance our partnerships to deliver new mobile applications such as mobile games with THQ Wireless and greater touch points that better expand and integrate into consumers’ lifestyles,” Mr. Lang said.
These initiatives include new community-centric, social-networking applications that will leverage Playboy’s global partners, and original mobile content, such as animations and localized entertainment recommendations.
Playboy Mobile in the U.S. will become a hub complementing its existing online destination for interacting with Playboy properties on other mobile devices.
Playboy’s mobile marketing effort towards new and existing customers comprises a three-pronged strategy.
First, Playboy aims to leverage mobile technology as brand extensions, i.e. taking existing content, applications and events from other parts of Playboy’s businesses and presenting them in mobile form.
Next, the brand will expand its mobile services to advertising partners by providing cross-platform opportunities such as mobile ads on mobile sites, sponsorship of mobile-originated promotions, and microsite content portals offering exclusive content.
Lastly, Playboy plans to investigate “product-marketing” of its mobile content and services directly to consumers as it extends its distribution geographically and through evolving business channels.
“Playboy’s decision to bolster its mobile efforts stems from a strong desire to broaden its audience and continue engaging with Playboy aficionados in non-traditional ways,” Mr. Lang said.
“Playboy Mobile helps extend online content, as well as the magazine – the world’s best-selling men’s monthly publication and the backbone of the brand – in real-time, making it more timely and accessible,” he said.
Benefits of mobile
Generally speaking, mobile presents challenges to all media companies, but also creates opportunities if used correctly.
In a time when information changes by the minute, Playboy can make its content available in more places and more quickly by leveraging the growing number of mobile consumers.
“By example, mobile is the best channel for many of our lifestyle campaigns, because it allows us to take the initiatives on-the-go and on-demand, while hitting our target demographic and driving higher brand engagement,” Mr. Lang said.
Mobile entertainment in the U.S. appears to be in transition from an emerging personalization business, to a credible ad-supported model creating many hybrid business opportunities.
This creates an opportunity for brands and media companies to leverage another digital platform for the profitable distribution of experiential entertainment content.
Playboy’s philosophy on mobile is shared between these two models: selling its content in premium offerings and services similar to other content producers, while also expanding through mPAN to generate growing ad revenue.
As industry experts predict, the next 12 months to 18 months should see noticeable growth in ad revenue.
“We aim to position ourselves in such a way to be in an early place to capture significant spend on mobile by having a compelling and engaging mobile offering including our mobile site, mobile messaging and alerts, social-media offerings accessible via mobile devices and interactive communities and online extensions,” Mr. Lang said.
In addition, Playboy is exploring product bundles and purchasing options for consumers using mobile payments – as an extension to the publisher’s existing ecommerce businesses – by using mobile-billing integration.
Leveraging the success of the inaugural Miss Playboy Mobile 2008 competition, which targeted only the U.S., Playboy will expand its search next year with a global competition.
For the worldwide contest, Playboy will be tapping its international-publishing and digital partners, using the online community and coupling it with the hundreds of millions of mobile-phone users worldwide.
“Our intent is to create a broader brand interaction play engaging a very large young male and female audience with Playboy in a new way around the globe,” Mr. Lang said.
“We plan to leverage social media in new and exciting ways to create repeat engagement and build brand affinity with new consumers,” he said.
For its partners, Playboy plans to deliver a promotional program to drive in-territory revenue opportunities and deepen local brand affinity.
In September 2008 Playboy will re-launch PlayboyMobile.com.
The re-launch will result in a new comprehensive Internet portal featuring a storefront offering personalization content, as well as expanded multimedia content such as “Playboy on the Scene,” “Miss Playboy Mobile” and “Playboy Around the World.”
Users also will be able to register for free subscriptions to video content delivered weekly, which will be sponsored by Playboy Mobile advertisers.
PlayboyMobile.com will serve as the hub for Playboy Mobile’s Web and mobile Web sites. Community features will be added, providing a social experience between the PC and mobile platforms.
Also, Playboy Mobile will launch a suite of mobile messaging services in September.
The strategy encompasses text and multimedia messaging and spans obvious offerings such as text alerts when Internet and mobile properties are updated, as well as audio and video delivered via MMS.
“Messaging gives Playboy an opportunity to grow a database of users who are interested in finding out about new and exciting products, services and contests, as well as a quantifiable user base which will be used to monetize the messaging channel,’ Mr. Lang said.