January 10, 2010...2:39 pm

Monetizing Passion

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Blog Post Update (January 15, 2010)




And with those 83 characters, mGive mobilized thousands of people in less than 48 hours to give over $5 million via text message to Haitian relief via the Red Cross.

The tragedy in Haiti is truly overwhelming, as is our collective will to help.  This outpouring of immediate response is not something I initially envisioned when I wrote the post below about passion and how it can be monetized. But certainly, we as a society are passionate about helping those in need. The immediacy of our response via SMS will be remembered as a watershed event not only in its capacity to help, but in our capability to immediately monetize response to causes which touch our hearts.


This is not a post about porn.  But, it is a post about passion.  And some thoughts about how to monetize it in an age of digital immediacy.

 “All humanity is passion; without passion, religion, history, novels, art would be ineffectual”

-  Honore De Balzac          French novelist (1799-1850)


 “Ambition is so powerful a passion in the human breast, that however high we reach, we are never satisfied”

-  Niccolo Machiavelli       Italian philosopher (1469-1527)

For most of us, passion is a driver behind some aspect of our life. Whether it is what we do in our work or what we do in our life, passion is relentlessly present and often, universally consuming. 

Passion is powerful.  Passion is intense.  Passion is immediate. 

The ability to digitally provide the immediacy of satisfying passion is one of the greatest opportunities for purveyors of digital commerce and practitioners of digital marketing.

You don’t agree?  Check out Zynga Game Network, the maker of Farmville, part of the recent social gaming phenomenon where companies capitalize upon the player’s passion for the game (and passion for social validation and stature) by offering them the ability to “buy” virtual currency” to improve their performance and experience.  This is the same company that sold more virtual tractors per day than real tractors are sold in the U.S. in a year.  They just received $180 million from Digital Sky Technologies in December giving it a valuation likely to be at least $1.5 billion and possibly upwards of $3 billion. Not bad for a company that has only been around 2 ½ years with an estimated $250 million in revenues and over 100 million players per month.

Oh by the way, one of Zynga’s competitors, Playfish, was purchased by Electronic Arts in November for $275 million in cash plus $25 million in equity and $100 million in earn-outs.

Flirtomatic generates approximately $12 ARPU per month from predominantly working class people who have a passion for flirting on their mobile phone. And, even more interesting, the site is not about dating or actually being set up to meet people, the activity is all about the passion for repartee between the sexes – the back and forth, the interaction and the joy of flirting.

How do you jump on the monetizing passion bandwagon?  Identify the passions that drive your brand, product or service, target the audience that craves the experience that feeds their passion, stoke the fires of that passion, and above all, take advantage of interactive digital media to provide those with passion the information they crave, and the ability to act and receive some degree of immediate satisfaction. Especially on that very personal, highly interactive, communication ecosystem that is with us all the time and gives us the ability to immediately respond and engage wherever we are – the mobile phone.  

Your brand, product or service doesn’t lend itself to a revenue model like Zynga, Playfish, or Flirtomatic?  No problem.  Your passion play doesn’t have to be a direct revenue channel like those companies.  It can be a marketing vehicle to drive those with passion to you.

Trendwatching recently released its “Ten Crucial Consumer Trends for 2010”.  What was #7 on the list?  Tracking and Alerting. It is part of a mega trend they identified as InfoLust or ‘consumers lusting after relevant information’ (That’s their definition – how could I not include the word ‘lust’ in a post about passion?).

Trendwatching identifies a great example of using passion to literally drive business – Curtis Kimball’s mobile Crème Brûlée Cart. Launched in San Francisco in early August 2009, the mobile crème brûlée cart has attracted more than 8,000 Twitter followers, who rely on his tweets to find out exactly where he’ll be, and what flavors are on the menu, so they can satisfy their passions for crème brûlée. The same type of concept can easily be applied to SMS.

The Long Tail was a wakeup call, in part, to the effects of the digital and virtual elimination of the geographical limitations of space.  With the mobile phone’s omnipresence in our lives, we now have a further reduction in the limitations of time.  And for those of us who feel the ‘right now’ urgency to satisfy our passions, the mobile phone is always with us, wherever we go.

French novelist George Sand once wrote “the capacity for passion is both cruel and divine.”  At least now, we have a more immediate way to seek satisfaction.


  • Mark,

    Great read…very insightful. The George Sand quote is too true…let’s hope Mobile Marketing leans more to the divine side of things.


  • [...] Mark Jaffe has an almost lyrical contribution musing about “monetizing passion” (and he is quick to point out that, despite the closeness to that other show in Las Vegas last week, he is not talking about adult entertainment). It is an intriguing angle on a well-covered topic: he basically posits that the ability to digitally provide the immediacy of satisfying passion presents one of the greatest marketing opportunities around. I concur! His post is here. [...]

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