Contributed by Fabrizio Caruso, Vice-President, Business Development & General Manager, Asia Pacific, Out There Media

Fabrizio Caruso

A key issue in marketing and advertising is how to attract the attention of the consumer. The world today is flooded with sensory input that never existed before. Our environments are full of sights and sounds that compete for our attention.

In response, people have taken to building their own environments. Headphones filter out ambient noise and replace it with an individually chosen soundtrack, and more often than not, people turn to their mobile phones to fill in their time, reading messages, email or news, playing games or using other applications.

Nowhere is this truer than Asia, where the International Telecommunications Union estimates there were 2,649 million mobile phone subscriptions as of October 2010*. If advertisers and marketers can find a way to penetrate this user-created shell of sight and sound, they might gain the unwilling attention of consumers. Even so, intruding into the “personal” space created by mobile phone users can be perceived as spam, and this can impact negatively on brand image. What is needed is a way to get consumers to part the curtains willingly, for them to invite marketers in, for them to pay attention.

Like anything else used for payment, attention must be earned, either through sheer spectacle or through exchange. Opt-in marketing does exactly this, offering consumers something of value in return for their attention. By offering consumers information, discounts, special offers, electronic coupons and other kinds of special or premium treatment, they are encouraged to pay attention, or, in other words, to opt-in to particular campaigns. What might be considered spam by someone who is uninterested is instead seen as an opportunity – for example, sending concert info to fans of a particular band, or offering discounted meals to fans of a particular restaurant.

This turns the usual marketing paradigm on its head, and instead provides a ready, relevant audience that is already interested in, and keenly waiting for information, news, or access to a particular product or service. The consumer feels like a privileged member of an elite club, and can also choose to share additional information in order to filter out unwanted material. Opting-out is always an option, so the consumer always stays in control.

Using this method, Out There Media’s opt-in base in Asia has grown to 4.2 million as of February 2011 after four months of exponential growth. This growth rate is the result of promotions on several channels, including traditional and online. The growth rate is also reflected by the high success rate of the opt-in method.

*International Telecommunications Union, Key Global Telecom Indicators for the World Telecommunication Service Sector,

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