This summer's Olympics served as a test bed for emerging media of all sorts, from massive online streaming to live and VOD mobile video. In one bleeding edge mobile trial that
occurred around the venue itself, Coca-Cola and Chinese media company Pioco created an unprecedented network of 1,500 Bluetooth hot spots that broadcast Coke commercials to passers-by on their cell
phones. "The goal was to open up an extra distribution channel for the Coke TV commercials," says Steve Chao, cofounder and CEO of Pioco.
The hot spots alerted users to turn on
their phones' Bluetooth capability so they could receive a message from Coke and download Olympic media.
"This campaign is unique in that it allows us to directly reach consumers
in outdoor entertainment venues," says Michelle Yang, media director, Coca-Cola China. About 1.8 million Chinese mobile-phone owners have Bluetooth-capable devices, and Chao says urban users are
especially curious about any mobile innovations. In this case, the infrastructure could deliver in seconds one of five branded video clips that featured major events, like diving and track, at speeds
up to 135 kbps. In August, Olympic attendees downloaded more than 880,000 Coke spots at a rate of 19 files each day from every hot spot. The project was not without tech hitches, however. In the last
48 hours before the launch, about 300 of the hot spots failed to check in over the telecom network. Chao deployed 40 temp workers to hundreds of locations in order to update the nodes manually.
This kind of self-selecting mobile interactivity leads to enormously high response, Chao claims. In previous campaigns, conversion rates hovered around 35 percent, he says. But when event
visitors are prompted to turn on their Bluetooth receivers, as they were in Beijing, conversions often climb to 65 percent.