Consumers love to get free music downloads. Starbucks, on Nov. 7, wrapped a monthlong promotion that gave away more than 50 million iTunes songs. Through December, Wendy’s will offer up to 100 million Rhapsody tracks with combo meals.
Promo magazine, partnering with digital media licensor Hip Digital, recently set out to find out to what extent marketers are serious about making downloads part of their arsenal.
According to the survey, better than a third of brand and agency executives say their companies now offer customers free digital downloads as a promotional incentive.
Half of the respondents said they were unsure how music or ringtones could help promote their products. And 57.5% said they felt they were not leveraging digital media effectively in their current brand programs.
Metrics appear to be one barrier: 46.8% said they’re looking for alternative measures to track loyalty and incentive program success.
Among incentive/loyalty programs that they’re considering, mobile campaigns (SMS, store front, text to win) came out ahead with 60.9%, compared with 53.2% willing to try online pincode redemption for downloads.
A little more than a third said they don’t have the budget for implementing downloads.
“What respondents to a survey like this are saying is that marketers today find themselves with option paralysis,” comments Jim Cannella, vice president of entertainment development for Impact Mobile, Inc. The company provides mobile marketing applications to carriers, global agencies and brands.
“There’s a very large swath of brands out there who are closely following the digital content revolution,” adds Cannella. “They’re trying to keep up to speed with the technological developments, they’re watching from the sidelines as the major players dip their toes in the water; but they’re confused by, and therefore scared of, the content rights holders. Once past the rights, there are all these new distribution methods available today to actually get the piece of content to consumers.”
Lauren Berkowitz, senior vice president of digital for EMI Music North America, believes that her company’s move last month to provide online music digital management rights-free will be boon for brands sitting on the fence.
By removing the device interoperability issue, EMI will enable consumers to more freely take advantage of marketer offers for free downloads. Unencumbered files can play on iPods as well as other MP3 devices.
Chris Gannett, senior director of strategic marketing and business development for Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s commercial music group, says he’s seen an increasing level of interest in downloads from brands in the past six months.
“Everyone is hungry for new ideas,” says Gannett. Marketers are “recognizing the power of music in establishing an emotional connection with consumers.”
“We’ve been doing a lot of deals in 2007 involving downloads as part of a broader program,” says Gannett, citing Hershey’s and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Hershey’s this past summer added a download giveaway wrinkle to its sponsorship of the summer concert tour of singer Brad Paisley. Tracks were offered on chocolate bar packages. Sony BMG created a microsite offering Paisley songs.
Berkowitz notes digital downloads are becoming an important revenue stream for EMI artists, as well as the company itself, to make up for CD sales shortfalls. While the downloads are given free to consumers, brands pay the labels, she adds.
Cooperating partners in the poll, which received 230 respondents, included AWE, a global entertainment marketing agency and division of Omnicom, and The Orchard, a global digital distributor and marketer of independent music.
For more articles on entertainment marketing, go to http://promomagazine.com/entertainmentmarketing