Sunday, January 04, 2009

in-call advertising: new players

via Mobile Marketer

1-800-FREE411 operator launches in-call ad network

Jingle all the way

Jingle Networks Inc., a free ad-supported directory assistance provider and operator of 1-800-FREE411, has launched JingleConnect, an in-call advertising network service.

Using its own ad-serving technology, Jingle Networks will help advertisers and companies with high call volume earn revenue by selling in-call ad time - a way to reach consumers via a one-to-one calling environment. Jingle can distribute audio advertising to other companies that operate call centers, information lines or any calling environment where their consumers are on hold.

"1-800-FREE411 has been very successful and it converts very well for thousands of our advertisers, and we launched JingleConnect because they're telling us they want more inventory," said John Roswech, president of Jingle Networks, New York. "We're furthering ad distribution to both in-call and SMS environments.

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"The one-to-one environment is key, because brand recall is higher, the intent to purchase is higher and the conversion rates for people forwarded to call centers are higher," he said.

JingleConnect lets any company with high call volume insert 15-second audio advertisements in their calls by taking advantage of Jingle's existing base of more than 130,000 advertisers on 1-800-FREE411.

1-800-FREE411 operator launches in-call ad network

John Roswech is president of Jingle Networks

In addition, Jingle Networks Inc.'s ad-supported directory assistance service 1-800-FREE411 is now offering SMS services to consumers and advertisers (see story).

1-800-FREE411 has served more than 900 million ads to date.

While its official launch was yesterday, JingleConnect has already been building up its client base. The company is already serving millions of advertisements each month for more than a dozen publishers.

1-800-FREE411 operator launches in-call ad network

JingleConnect in effect

These include companies such as SayNow, which lets fans send voice and text messages to artists and celebrities, and Slydial, which lets callers slip a message directly into voicemail without the recipient hearing any rings.

Other publishers include Arsenal Interactive's My Concierge, Snoozester Inc. and RH Brands, operators of the Rejection Hotline.

"We have about 15 publishers already signed up and we are serving ads for 11 or 12 publishers as we speak," Mr. Roswech said. "We try to target ads that fit a specific demographic, and we take location into account whenever possible."

For example, if a consumer searches Cha Cha for hotels with vacancies in Washington, JingleConnect will add a text ad for a local hotel brand to the bottom of Cha Cha's SMS recommendation.

In-call advertising is becoming an increasingly important media channel for advertisers who are looking for new ways to reach a fast-growing mobile population.

Given that wait times for customer service lines now average up to 15 minutes or more per call - per Jingle - converting dead air into a revenue stream while capturing a captive audience on hold has become an attractive revenue opportunity for companies of all types and sizes.

One competitor in the in-call-advertising space is Voodoo Vox.

"We were the first to do in-call advertising, but Voodoo Vox has been operating under a model similar to JingleConnect for the past year and a half," Mr. Roswech said.

"We've only been building up clients for the past two months, but we're already doing more volume than them because we have the pent-up advertiser demand," he said.

"We're capitalizing on the fact that our 130,000 advertisers want more phone calls. We looked at publishers that were generating large amounts of phone calls on a daily basis, going after advertisers with a voice 2.0 model that don't want to build up a sales force, which is expensive and you have to train them to sell audio advertising."

Jingle's advantage in the marketplace is due in large part to volume.

"The CPMs we offer are better because of the volume of our existing advertising base," Mr. Roswech said. "It converts really well for our advertisers, because we bring them into other in-call environments, but if they tried to do that alone, they wouldn't have enoughf inventory or scale to get the attention of big brands."

Since launching 1-800-FREE411 in 2005, Jingle claims to have assembled one of the largest telephonic audio ad networks in the world.

Partners such as Idearc and and brands such as McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Ford and RadioShack along with small independent retailers use Jingle's interactive audio campaigns to reach target audiences.

"In-call audio ads are here to stay, because we're moving into a hands-free world, so voice is going to be huge," Mr. Roswech said. "You're actually going to be calling in to different services and activating them using voice, and that's a big emphasis of our company.

"In the future, you'll be accessing GPS in your car and you'll hear an ad when you drive by a specific landmark, restaurant or store," he said. "There are lots of different applications for a voice platform, and more advertisers are looking for more and more inventory."