The Friday Interview: Rachel Supple, iTouch

2 Mar 2007

This week’s interviewee is Rachel Supple (pictured), managing director of iTouch in Ireland.

Since iTouch was acquired two years ago, how has the company evolved?

ITouch, the group, has many different strands to its business. One element would be the media services side in Ireland and the UK as well as the business-to-consumer area, which is all about building content and communities.

An increasingly important element is our business-to-organisation work with mobile operators on areas like interactive TV, quizzes and gaming.

Do you see yourselves getting increasingly involved in interactive TV work?

We are already handling voting for Big Brother in the UK and in Ireland programmes like Winning Streak Home Spun. We also handle interactive competitions on TV3.

It is a similar model to the interactive services we provide such as entertainment, sport and leisure in most of the Irish national newspapers.

ITouch has recently evolved its classified dating services to the internet. How did this come about?

We had been running newspaper classified services based on interactive voice response (IVR) since 1993 and this expanded to include SMS shortcodes.

There was enormous growth in internet usage in Ireland and we saw a natural fit for online dating online.

We launched two years ago and it has exceeded our expectations. We have an aggressive market plan to move into the mobile internet space.

How strong a proposition is the mobile internet?

If you have a niche product that suits people on the move it is a strong proposition. With we believe it will work well in the mobile space because people don’t want to be always online just to access messages.

An example of a company with a niche product that performs well in the mobile internet space is Paddy Power Online.

Does mobile marketing work?

Mobile marketing works well with other media such as radio, newspapers and TV. Any direct marketing with a call-to-action plan will benefit in this space.

For example, we’ve worked with Toyota on their new Auris plan and TV viewers can text to request a brochure or request a test drive.

Is the Irish market savvy enough for mobile marketing?

It depends on the services you are providing. The Irish are in many ways ahead of their counterparts in other countries. We are more mobile savvy than most and are definitely a nation of texters.

Figures show that we have 106pc mobile penetration and in the last quarter of last year some 1.4 billion text messages were sent – that’s up 38pc on the previous year.

By John Kennedy

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