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Gossip website TMZ receives over 300,000 messages using SMS campaign

5 minutes of reading
Publication: 02.23.2017
Última modificación: 06.28.2022


TMZ increases popularity and audience with SMS campaign.

Thirty Mile Zone is a very popular gossip website in the United States, known by its acronym TMZ. The main theme of TMZ content is anything to do with celebrities, famous figures, photos and videos. They even have a version of the website in Spanish.

TMZ also produces a television show in which they combine real footage with animations make fun of so-called ‘celebrities’, and make the smallest details of their lives available to the public. They also have a YouTube channel followed by more than two million internet users.

In spring of 2016, unhappy with their statistics, TMZ launched an SMS marketing campaign to increase their popularity and the audience of both their TV channel and their website. They organized a competition via SMS which attracted 300,000 participants. The most impressive factor in the SMS campaign’s success? They achieved this result in just 11 days.

Every day between the 16-26th May 2016, TMZ’s television show revealed a different word as part of the Million Dollar May Sweepstakes. To participate in the contest and have a chance to win a prize, viewers had to send an SMS message to the number 34490.

Over 11 days, an average of more than 27,000 messages per day were received by TMZ. All of the 11 chosen words referred to money, luxury, jewelry etc. and were short words with few letters so it would be easier to type, for example RICH, BANK, CASH, GOLD, etc. The more times contestants sent a message, the higher their chances would be of winning a prize.

To advertise the contest and describe to participants how it worked, TMZ Live used social networks including their Facebook page, which has nearly 7 million fans, and their Twitter page, with more than 4 million followers.

The final winner of the contest was assured four prizes: a check for $10,000, two round-trip tickets from their local airport to Los Angeles, accommodation for two people for two nights in Los Angeles, and a visit to the TMZ offices, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

But TMZ hooked its followers with an offer they couldn’t refuse, offering them with the opportunity to win some even juicier prize money: $1 million. To win this, contestants had play all or nothing and choose the right envelope among a series of envelopes containing just $100. Of course this was a difficult task. The probability of winning was very low, and unsurprisingly, the final contestant didn’t win.

The original touch of the competition run by TMZ was the effective repetition of the SMS marketing campaign. It’s often the case that interaction between clients or subscribers with a company or brand is limited to an initial opt-in and the periodic reception of offers and discounts etc. with an agreed monthly limit of messages.

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