Buzzd, which bills itself as “the premier mobile, local search service, providing real-time information for bars, clubs and restaurants on the mobile device,” has been generating quite a lot of buzz for itself in recent days. Coming off an on-deck deal with Helio (the MVNO best described as the “Futurama” of mobile – beleaguered and on borrowed time despite a cultish, geek-friendly following), the start-up recently swept all three MobileMonday Peer Awards in Barcelona last month at 3GSM, inclusive of the Jury, Audience and Global MoMo chapter awards.
Mobilestance sat down with Nihal Mehta, founder and CEO Buzzd, to gain more insight into the company and its plans for the future. Mehta, no stranger to mobile marketing in the US, had previously co-founded ipsh!, one of the first full-service mobile marketing agencies in the US, which he later sold to Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) in 2005.
[mobilestance] Please give us the Buzzd elevator pitch. [Nihal Mehta] Marketers and brands alike are being drawn to social networking in general, due to enhanced consumer engagement & potential virality of the brand msg, for example empowering ‘tastemakers’ to become the ambassador for any given brand to their friends and outside communities. Mobile takes the msg one step closer, with the ability to target not only the most personal medium to any consumer, but in more sophisticated end user targeting (demographic, carrier, handset, and.. location- the holy grail!).
Buzzd offers brands the ability to connect with consumers not only based on where they are right now, but what they have been doing recently as well (behavioral targeting!). For example, Buzzd displays an Adidas advertisement to someone that might frequent a hiphop club. In addition, Buzzd pioneers the latest innovation in mobile advertising– not just tiny little banner ads. We are also experimenting with interstitials and allowing consumers to tag their profile with specific brand identities. For these reasons, mobile social networking portrays the holy grail in targeting consumers for brands and marketers.
[ms] How did Buzzd concept come about? Was there an “ah-hah” moment when the mental light-bulb just “went on?” [NM] The inspiration for Buzzd was purely selfish…. [the] inside of that bar, what was the scene like right now? The guy/girl ratio? How crowded was it? We wanted to create a service that would fulfill these questions, that no other service currently addressed.
[ms] How has the Helio subscriber base taken to Buzzd? Are you looking to do similar deals with other carriers? [NM] Helio is the first of many Buzzd ‘on-deck’ deals by which the operator provides a link on their WAP deck to market Buzzd for their user community. The Helio target has been a slam dunk, due to their 3G handsets (mobile web flies!) and targeted demo who consume lifestyle and entertainment content.
[ms] Let’s talk numbers. What sort of traffic are you looking at right now, and where you think you’ll be at the end of the year? [NM] Through only three products currently marketed (Timeout, Flavorpill & Buzzd on Helio), traffic has been ramping significantly. With many more partnerships on the horizon and an official off-deck launch in Q2 [of ‘08], we anticipate hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users by end of year.
[ms] What business categories are showing the most interest in your offering? Are you selling your inventory on a sponsorship or CPM basis? [NM] We are selling three main categories to advertisers: co-branded/custom sites (see AKQA / Smirnoff nightlife guide), sponsorships (see flavorpill.BuzzD.com/m by NOKIA) and [on a] CPM basis. We will be offering specific location targeting soon, based upon the consumer’s self-identified location or through handset/carrier GPS or cell tower triangulation.
[ms] Where is Buzzd going next? What lies ahead for Buzzd in terms of technology, promotion and integration? [NM] Integration across social networks (Facebook, MySpace, bebo, etc); integration with all available LBS technology (handset/carrier GPS, cellsite ID, triangulation, etc); optimized iPhone/android/blackberry launchers; j2me/brew/symbian; much, much more.. Stay tuned and keep checking back on www.BuzzD.com!
[ms] Finally, give us your insights on the mobile marketing space in the US… where it is now and where it’s headed. [NM] I founded ipsh! in 2001 as a technology company, with a vision to become an agency. today, ipsh! along with a few other successful mobile marketing agencies, are finally full-service agencies, not only doing the execution, but [also] providing valuable creative, strategy and analytics. This is key to providing real value to the customer– 360 integration across MOBILE – i.e. Bluetooth, SMS, WAP, java, QR, etc– and tying it back through traditional channels (print, TV, radio, OOH, POP, etc). It’s finally happening, and we’re seeing more budgets dedicated to mobile marketing/advertising by the day. It’s exciting to finally have the initial vision realized and we hope to innovate with similar results in the mobile local/social networking arena with Buzzd!
The YouTube video demoing Buzzd on Helio can be seen here: