How to Get a $50,000 Porsche for $127.74

MediaMorph: Limbo41414

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: MediaMorph: Limbo41414.
Limbo41414: a new-millennium version of the old-fashioned sweepstakes competitions
Limbo41414: a new-millennium version of the old-fashioned sweepstakes competitions

What it is: Limbo41414 is a mobile-entertainment company whose first property is made-for-mobile auction games. Think of it as something like a new-millennium version of the old-fashioned sweepstakes competitions. The prize goes to the bidder who offers the lowest unique bid. As a result, the game has given away a $50,000 Porsche for $127.74. Limbo, played via text messaging, notifies users when a lower unique bid has knocked them out of the competition so they can rebid.

One business under development: Loot will award points to those participating in TV-based premium text-messaging contests such as those on "Deal or No Deal," which is being challenged in the courts as possible illegal gambling. The idea is the points rewarded help circumvent the games' legal issues.

Who's limbo-ing: Since its inception in January 2006, some 750,000 active users have sent 75 million text messages as part of 950 auctions. About 55% of the players are women. Marketers such as Disney, Bravo and Toyota are among the sponsors participating in auctions, with prizes ranging from $100,000 worth of "Pirates of the Caribbean"-related games to a VIP trip to Los Angeles for the Emmy Awards.

What it means for marketers: "The game is very, very addictive," said Gene Keenan, VP-mobile services, Isobar, who has used it for an Electronic Arts promotion. With an average player making 10 contacts with the game, it's a great brand-awareness tool, he said, adding: "You never feel like you're getting spammed."

Added benefit: Limbo's third-party research found that those who don't win the contest are 49% more likely to purchase the item. In fact, 7% of those who lost the game went out to purchase the auction item. In one package-goods test, an astounding 25% of participants bought the product.
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