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USSD ‘race’ draws record 400 000 users

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Mastercard in collaboration with Digitata Insights recently launched a gamification campaign to educate South Africans on the benefits of making safe, secure and fast payments with Masterpass.

An interactive game to educate users on digital payments drew almost 400 000 users, believed to be a record for a campaign using the cellphone short-code system known as USSD.

Mastercard ran the campaign in collaboration with Digitata Insights, a subsidiary of Digitata, using ‘gamification’ to educate South Africans on the benefits of making safe, secure and fast payments with Masterpass, the global digital payment service from Mastercard.

The interactive game – “The Masterpass Race” – showed South African consumers the benefits of  Masterpass across digital payments channels including airtime top-up, online purchases, bill payments and in-store payments. It also demonstrated the security features, convenience and ease of use people will find in Masterpass—including the fact that they can pay with a smart app on their smartphones and leave their physical wallets at home.

Gabriel Swanepoel, Product Development and Innovation, Mastercard, said: “To create widespread adoption of our Masterpass solution, we looked for a unique, fun and engaging platform to bring its benefits to life for consumers. Gamification was a perfect opportunity to educate consumers about how digital payments can improve their lives.”

To participate, subscribers had to dial a USSD short code. Players earned points for by answering questions relating to information supplied in the game about mobile and cashless payments and Masterpass, and completed actions such as downloading and using the Masterpass app. Accumulating points got players to the next level of the game and points could be converted into airtime.

Richard Walton, acting CEO at Digitata Insights, said: “Gamification – the incorporation of game play into online marketing – is an extremely effective way to keep mobile users engaged, offering the ideal opportunity to educate them in an interactive manner.  The fact that players could receive free airtime ensured continued engagement and made the game extremely popular.”

Digitata Insights developed the USSD-based gamification service using the company’s MeMe measurable mobile media platform. “Text-based USSD was the ideal channel as all mobile users are familiar with the *111# service. It is also a prolific channel because it is device and network agnostic, which means there is potential to deliver bespoke content to a huge market, all without the subscriber incurring any charges as no data is required.”

To ensure the broadest reach, Digitata Insights partnered with South Africa’s two largest network operators, gaining access to millions of potential customers. The results from the campaign were impressive: more than 398,595 people started the race and some 153,000 reached the finishing line by completing all 17 levels in the game.

“Overall we feel that the Masterpass campaign was on par with some of the biggest USSD-based consumer engagement campaigns run globally,” said Walton. “And despite this form of mobile marketing being around for 15 years already, we’re not aware of any other campaigns that have been able to generate these numbers. We therefore feel that we’ve taken USSD-based marketing to the next level, and are now starting to realise the full potential that this form of mobile engagement has always held.”

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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