Verizon (NYSE: VZ) plans to ramp up its marketing for its Go90 over-the-top mobile video service as Thanksgiving and Black Friday approach, according to Verizon executives. It's unclear how much Verizon plans to spend to market the service, but the carrier, which launched Go90 in early October, has been steadily increasing its marketing from grassroots efforts toward a mass media rollout timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season.
"We soft launched on October 1. You are starting to see some of the billboards around some of the subways and all; maybe a little bit of TV, but we really aren't going to blast this out until closer to the real big Black Friday holiday," Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said last week at the Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. "You will start to see more and more as the month goes on and a real ramp-up."
Verizon has been fairly quiet on its marketing for Go90 but has been rolling out the marketing in deliberate stages, with some artwork and posters in major cities and some entertainers whose content is part of Go90 sending out messages on social media about the service. Joseph Ambeault, executive director of product management and development for Go90, said that the carrier will expand its marketing to be more visible, especially to its core target audience of millennials.
"Wherever the target audience is, they will not miss the opportunity to gain awareness on Go90," Ambeault said in a recent interview with FierceWireless. "And then to convert from a prospect to a user, so it's fairly comprehensive. It's fairly well thought out. It's not going to look like any other Verizon marketing you've seen."
In September, Verizon started out small. The company hired a graffiti artist to legally spray paint the Go90 logo on a wall in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, just to raise awareness and start conversations. Around the time of the app's launch, Metro stations in Washington, D.C., were plastered with Go90 posters.
Last month and into this month Verizon has launched "highly targeted" digital marketing, Ambeault said. Now Verizon is moving to more traditional mass media marketing for Go90. "But it's been a very strategically thought-out ramp," Ambeault said.
"But it also includes, and what I think is going to be very neat, is that a bunch of the talent that are in the shows on Go90 activating audience," Ambeault said. "So you can even see that now happening on Twitter, Facebook and some of those other places of the actual talent also participating."
Indeed, Monica Coleman, who stars in the Go90 digital sci-fi series "The Fourth Door," posted earlier this month about it on Facebook. Marissa Lace, who posts on YouTube and social media about beauty and fashion tips, urged her Twitter followers in late October to "Make sure to download the @go90 app so you can SOON see exclusive Get Ready W/ Me videos." And also in late October model Jordan Liberty posted to Instagram, "I'm on @go90! Follow me for exclusive videos and content coming shortly!"
"It is absolutely a 360-degree marketing plan," Ambeault said. "It's not like, hey, we're just going to buy a bunch of TV commercials and it will all be done. It's really well orchestrated around driving awareness and then using that awareness to drive actual activations."
Shammo noted that Go90 currently has more than 10,000 entertainment titles in the service and has launched three exclusive content deals with DreamWorks Animations' AwesomenessTV. Verizon likely will not discuss user metrics until the end of the first quarter but he said "the launch is going well. The feedback has been great."
According to app analytics firm App Annie, Go90 has been downloaded between 100,000 and 500,000 times in Google Play, with an average rating of 3.6 out of 5. In Apple's App Store, the app has an average rating of 3.0 out 5, but App Annie does not have figures on how many times it has been downloaded. Go90 aims to offer a mix of content from traditional TV networks alongside online video from the likes of AwesomenessTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, ESPN, NFL Network, One World Sports, Discovery, VH1, MTV, SPIKE, TLC, Adult Swim, HGTV, BET, Investigation Discovery, New Form Digital and others.
Shammo said Verizon has deliberately kept its brand off of Go90 because it doesn't want consumers to think that they need to be Verizon customers to use the service (to be clear, all wireless customers can access Go90).
The ultimate business goal for Verizon is to use the audience it is aggregating through Go90 to help advertisers reach millennials. Shammo said advertisers "are starting to come in and look at this and say, OK, there's something here. And we are starting to build more and more awareness around the advertising community around how we specifically can give them demographics in a total concept. Not violating any privacy laws here, but we can tell them OK, we have 18- to 24-year-olds in New York City. That's very appealing to advertisers. So that's going to grow as time goes and that is how we're going to monetize this product. It's still in an infancy stage, but it's growing pretty rapidly."
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