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OpenID Case Study: AFI Begin Transmission Project

By Janrain Team | Posted on January 23, 2009

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We’ve been building a portfolio of OpenID case studies and just finished one that is pretty exciting, so wanted to share it with the community.


AFI is a leading rock band with an exciting approach to fan engagement – a competition for six fans to perform on their next album.

They asked fans to submit two minute auditions about themselves via YouTube which were then integrated into a dedicated AFI Begin Transmission website, where other fans could comment and vote for their top choices. The final results are being announced today, check it out.

The following is a summary of our conversation with Lee Martin of Aesthetic Theory, who implemented OpenID for AFI.

Lee, why did AFI decide to add OpenID login support?

One of the main focuses of this contest was to make it very simple for fans (and the friends & family) to register, login, comment, and cast their votes. OpenID gave us a quick and easy way to create unique accounts for each fan using identities they already had from Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo, Google, AOL, etc. It’s an open standard and most people already have an OpenID – they just don’t know it.

Lee Martin

So why did you choose JanRain's RPX to implement OpenID?

I was looking for a solution that would be intuitive for our fans and easy for me to implement.

RPXhas the best user experience that I could find, and we definitely wanted to support Facebook & Myspace which hadn’t implemented OpenID yet. I wanted to be able to write a one sentence explanation on "how to login" and I was able to.


Finally, I wanted a turnkey implementation approach that we could get up and running quickly with minimal effort. It literally took me 30 minutes to get RPX integrated and our fans even less time to start voting.

So with RPX we got a killer integrated user experience and a best of class deployment model.

Did your team know how you would measure success?

Success was definitely going to be measured by our customer support inquiries. I haven’t seen a single one . The fans, their friends, and their family members simply understood that they were able to login with accounts they already had. The RPX user interface turned out to be very intuitive for our users. They completely got the idea of clicking on the button of an account they already had.

What results did you achieve after deploying OpenID?

We were blown away with the fan response. This contest is less than 2 weeks old and we’ve received 850 submissions, had 13,000+ fans register on the website, 10,000+ comments, and over 100,000 votes to select our winners. This has been a tremendous event for the band and the fans.

Any surprises, maybe things you didn’t expect?

We haven’t been active in social media for quite some time so we didn’t know what to expect regarding which accounts our fans would choose. AFI has a really broad following, just look at the winners, so we were looking forward to learning more about what accounts were most relevant to them.

We figured MySpace would be a popular choice since we’ve always seen great traffic from there, but look at that other 65%! There is a pretty broad distribution across Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and AOL as well. This made it even clearer that going with JanRain’s RPX was the right choice, since no other solution supported all the accounts with a single integrated, intuitive interface .


What advice would you give to others thinking about implementing OpenID?

DO IT! Users don’t want walls in front of them anymore and they trust the authentication efforts of OpenID providers. I was basically able to say "Google wants you to vote on this AFI submission"… you can’t buy or build that sort of trust.

And don’t let deployment or maintenance stand in your way! RPX makes it fast and easy to implement and I love the fact that as OpenID and other open technologies & services emerge, RPX will just integrate them in and deliver it to us and our fans .

We’re also thinking about how to better personalize and engage with our fans by collecting a little bit of opt-in data. We understand that some of the major identity providers are now letting users share information with websites through simple registration (SREG) and attribute exchange (AX) as well as APIs like Facebook Connect and MySpaceID. For future projects we’ll be looking at how that might let us serve our fans better.

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