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Flirtomatic sells 28,000 virtual holiday gifts in five days

Mobile flirting service and social network Flirtomatic sold 28,000-plus virtual gifts in the five days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve.

The explosive sales of virtual gifts over the Christmas period averaged out to selling around 233 gifts per hour. In the run up towards Christmas Day, Flirtomatic sold more than 54,000 virtual gifts, with snowwomen outselling snowmen by almost two-to-one.

“A key driver of the growth of virtual goods and services is social gaming on Facebook,” said Mark Curtis, CEO of Flirtomatic, London. “This is making users very comfortable with the idea of micropayments for virtual things.

“On top of that, improvements in billing also help, though there is some way to go here,” he said.

Flirtomatic, the first branded consumer service of Handmade Mobile Ltd., is a real-time, multimedia messaging platform that currently has more than 1.8 millilon registered users.

Targeted at young adults—75 percent of users are 18-30 years old—Flirtomatic operates a free service across the Web and mobile that lets users flirt and meet new people.

Mr. Curtis said that in general, the older users are, the more likely they are to spend.

Users can discover members on the basis of their preferences, interests, location and other information stored in their multimedia user profile.

Flirtomatic users are sending more than 25 million messages per month and generating more than 100 million WAP page views a month.

Virtual holiday gifts
From the corresponding data, it seems many Flirtomatic users tackled their post Christmas day boredom and continued the generous spirit by logging in and hitting the FlirtShop.

Gift purchases on Boxing Day were double what they were on Christmas Day and rose a further 50 percent on Dec. 27.

One of the most popular gifts over Christmas was the Flirtomatic Christmas stocking, which was also one of the most expensive, selling more than 16,000, with a third of those bought within the first three days of the item being on sale.

Some of the other top-selling gifts over Christmas included candy canes (just under 9,000), mistletoe (around 8,300) and Rednose Reindeer (more than 7,000).

A Vodafone UK promotion offering pay-as-you-go users free data between Christmas and New Year’s also seemed to help get people into the spirit of things, encouraging people to explore what their phone can do using the mobile Web without fear of huge data charges.

The promotion also resulted in six times as many new Flirtomatic users signing up across the week.

The call-to-action was in-store through leaflets, in newspaper ads and posters. It offered “Free Internet on Your Mobile During Christmas Week.”

The flyer reads as follows: “Find out when the sales are on, or where that must-see Christmas movie’s showing. Flick through Flirtomatic and find a hot date to take along too. Get the footie scores on Boxing Day or swap present tales with friends on Facebook. Then tweet your way into 2010 on Twitter. There’s loads of fun stuff to do and you don’t need to sign up to anything. Just grab your phone and tuck in.”

Revenue generator
Mr. Curtis said that when done correctly, virtual gifts have helped encourage more people to make micropayments using their mobile phone and by doing so, virtual gifting has built up their confidence in using their phone to pay for things.

Flirtomatic sold 1 million-plus gifts in 2009.

Gifts are just one of Flirtomatic’s premium service revenue streams and the company noticed a spike in other areas over the holiday period too.

Flirtomatic’s “New Year, New You” service gives users the chance to pay to delete all their lowest ratings so they can start the year off with a perfect 10.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Flirtomatic is already stocking its virtual shelves with gifts and services, including a Valentine’s Gift Box and a Secret Valentine’s service, which will let users send gifts to people outside of Flirtomatic.

“We expect to see a lot more innovation in this area this year,” Mr. Curtis said. “One key innovation might be storage for virtual goods and a secondary market for them too.

“Expect creativity to drive some unexpected virtual products,” he said. “The mantra will be ‘Customers will buy anything in the right context.’”