I saw what you did and know who you are

It’s not Big Brother, but with the launch of Bango Analytics this week, mobile website owners will now get a unique view on who their visitors are and what they are doing.  Also it’ll provide valuable information on how mobile ads are performing, right across different ad networks.  All this is done without revealing any personal data. Many marketing firms have not taken the pluge into mobile advertising for the sheer inability to measure the effectiveness of a campaign prior to this point.  This all changes with Bango Analytics – see what the media thought of the product:

Posted in mobile web.

New version of Bango Live

A new version of the Bango Live traffic sampler just went live at www.bango.com/live

Free My Phone

Veteran Technical Reporter / Guru Walt Mossberg wrote a great article in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.  Full of great info and a call to action to get carriers to open up their walled gardens.

Extract:

Free My Phone

A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now. And the result has been a mobile phone system that is the direct opposite of the PC model. It severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.

Whether you are a consumer, a hardware maker, a software developer or a provider of cool new services, it’s hard to make a move in the American cellphone world without the permission of the companies that own the pipes. While power in other technology sectors flows to consumers and nimble entrepreneurs, in the cellphone arena it remains squarely in the hands of the giant carriers.

The Soviet Ministry Model

That’s why I refer to the big cellphone carriers as the “Soviet ministries.” Like the old bureaucracies of communism, they sit athwart the market, breaking the link between the producers of goods and services and the people who use them.

To some extent, they try to replace the market system, and, like the real Soviet ministries, they are a lousy substitute. They decide what phones can be used on their networks and what software and services can be offered on those phones. They require the hardware and software makers to tailor their products to meet the carriers’ specifications, not just so they work properly on the network, but so they promote the carriers’ brands and their various add-on services.

….

LOTS MORE HERE:  http://mossblog.allthingsd.com/20071021/free-my-phone/

Brands take control of their mobile destiny

It’s becoming quite common for brands to have an off-portal presence as well as one on-portal. Here Universal Studios articulate why they go to the effort of having both:

“We want to be master of our own destiny more, to have an environment we control,” said Jeremy Laws, the Los Angeles-based senior vp at Universal Mobile Entertainment, a division of Universal Studios.

“We’re basically beholden to the way operators want to merchandise our brand in their own shops,” Laws said. In contrast, the “off-deck” site will put Universal squarely in charge of the look, feel and presentation of its content. It also will give it a greater share of revenue.

Laws said the Universal site will make it easier for one-stop mobile shopping because Universal will put ringtones, wallpaper and games all on a film’s same page, whereas carrier decks tend to scatter the merchandise across different pages. It also makes Universal films the center of attention. On busy carrier decks, the studio vies for visibility not only against other studios but also against a plethora of content providers from the sports, news and music world.

Read the full article on Hollywood Reporter

The name “Bango”

There was an article in industry newsletter Unstrung.com poking fun at the name “Bango” – along with our friends Twango and Thumbplay.

Just to set the record straight, here is the derivation of the name Bango:

“Bango” means “number” in Japanese. At the heart of the “Bango system” which was invented in 1999 is the idea that any piece of content is given a unique “Bango Number”. It is then used as a key to collect money (Premium content), spread it virally (via WAP.com), provide quick and easy access (Direct entry) or to track traffic.

Also, the symbol for a “Bango Number” is ! number so !729 or !987654321 and ! is called “bang” in the USA.

So, there you have it. Bango was initially called Bango.net because the “bango.com” was owned by Treesa Bangs, the lead singer in Christian Rock band “Bango”. Bango.net Limited bought the domain name from her in 2003 and changed its name to Bango.
So, there you have it – totally logical…..

So, although it sounds rather like “Bang and Go”, the name is logical…

WAP.com and the Bango Directory

A few years back, users had nowhere to go for off-portal mobile sites other than a few “link collectors” that were mostly filled with obsolete links. Thats why Bango created a directory of sites, based on site creators simply registering their site, a description and an image or two at Bango plus a few keywords to assist in search.

It was available at bango.net on a phone, and also in the “world of content” on a PC (at bango.com/woc or www.bango.net ).

Also, when users “fell out” of a payment flow, because of excessive “back buttoning” or because CP’s did not set a home phrase to recover users to, users were re-directed to bango.net to go to “last visited” (hopefully a good place to recover to).

Bango.net also allowed viral spread of mobile sites – through its innovative “tell a friend” – and lists of favourite sites.

Very quickly hundreds of thousands of people created lists of favourites and used the Bango directory to find and share sites.

At the same time, content providers, especially big ones, told us they did not like the idea of users falling out of their sites into a “shopping mall”. This was especially the case when people might find adult content “accidentally” because the US carriers to not yet have an age verification process. Thats why users “falling out” of the bango payment flow in the USA got a version of bango.net without a directory for the last couple of years.

Also, we started to feed the information collected by CP’s populating the directory into other search engines like Yahoo and Google, so that their sites would be found via that route as well as by “stumbling across” Bango.net. Thats why many Bango sites get a lot of traffic from Google or Yahoo without having fed the relevant site maps themselves.

We took a decision in mid 2006 to split the functions of the “2005 bango.net” into two parts. (1) Payment and analytics flow handling – kept with Bango.net and (2) Traffic generation and use interface via WAP.com

We are about 75% of the way through that process.

Bango.net
Bango.net is focussed on being a utility and API for content providers to tap in to the power of the Bango system. It provides payment services (automatically selecting the best biller), tracking (userid, operator etc.), subscription management, and in future some new cool features that will be announced soon.

WAP.com
WAP.com is focussed on users. Its a place to go to find content – though its search feature. It enables creation of communities built round shared views of sites (Favoritos.wap.com mtv.wap.com suave.wap.com and many others – watch this space).

Its a place you can keep your own favourite sites, and where you can share with peopel your friends. Its a place where you can speak out and show a picture (whoop and icon and more to come soon). WAP.com also has a “find content” feature, which has recently been modified to enable its use more widely in the USA. It is fed via the Bango directory.   Finally, you can use yoursite.wap.com as a URL and monitor the accesses to that URL at bango.com

Next Steps
We have some great plans for WAP.com which is gaining users fast. People use WAP.com much more than bango.net and we are also expecting great things from some of our partners who will be promoting branded WAP.com’s.

Content providers should continue to populate the directory – it feeds the WAP.com “find content” and also gets your content fed into other search engines.

We haev also just enhanced the data collection to add more info – now available in Starter Packages initially – so we can feed more to the search engines and WAP.com

WAP.com is a great destination for mobile users and we are adding some interesting featires for CP’s to explicitly use WAP.com (like “add to my waplist”) and we are doing a lot to bridge users from their PC’s to their mobiles via WAP.com

So, in a nutshell, traffic to the Bango Directory is declining via “bango.nat accidental discovery” but its climbing due to WAP.com and it drives Google, Yahoo and Jumptap traffic to CP sites. As WAP.com starts to really accelerate, watch your traffic climb – if you have interesting content!!!

If you want to see how popular WAP.com is getting, watch the www.bango.co/live traffic and you will see the proportion of users that are WAP.com users. Very soon you will be able to even see which users coming to your site are WAP.com people!

How open should Bango be?

Some content providers have made posts on the Bango Forums (http://forums.bango.com) expressing concern that Bango might be making its services available to individuals or small businesses that might not have “good quality content”. 

Bango agrees that people selling garbage content might cause people to be wary of good quality content. However, our view is that we can’t judge what is good and what is bad in the eyes of a user. We championed an open view with the operator portals for the last 7 years – and we still believe in that!

Unfortunately we can’t do much to stop “bad behaviour” on the mobile web. Its the web! What we can do is try to make our services (which are good quality, open and transparent) available more easily to “good guys” and try to prevent rewards flowing to “bad guys”.

The “free starter”, “challenge” and “guest” packages are all available to help people realise they can use the mobile web, but none of them provides rapid cash back from bad behaviour. We do “broker” user complaints and monitor sites. Its very hard to make money from a bad site.

We want all mobile content providers to register their mobile sites with Bango, and in fact we want to help as many mobile sites as possible to be produced. More content on the mobile web should be a good thing. Much of it will be free, using Bango to track who is coming in and why. A lot will be premium.

We must mention “Bango” and “what Bango is” in the payment flow, because the billers hold us responsible for policing their rules and collecting user feedback. As much as us they don’t want to bill for problematic content. We also provide a feedback channel for problems.