Are amusement parks - with their long rollercoaster ride lines and crowded boardwalks - emerging mobile advertising platforms? If you pose the question to marketers for Six Flags and Ask.com, the answer is yes.
The two companies have bolstered a relationship that began last year, when Ask.com tested an SMS-based Q&A-styled trivia game at three Six Flags locations to assess consumer demand for in-park mobile interaction. During an October trial, Ask.com saw 9 percent of those using its iPhone app at Six Flags play the trivia game while trying to win a move to the front of the line. Sixty percent played the game at least twice, and they collectively sent 90,000 text messages.
Digital and traditional signage around the parks helped push the usage. Indeed, Ask.com was the advertiser while Six Flags was the platform.
Speaking with ClickZ News, Doug Leeds, CEO for Oakland, CA-based Ask.com, suggested his company is gearing up its mobile marketing efforts.
"Mobile opens up doors to newer ad models," he said. "While the Six Flags campaign is an example of [us] tapping the Six Flags platform as a means to test new features, drive downloads and engagement, it also indicates a new way [we] can bring value to advertisers through a location-aware model that ties together location-specific Q&A with timely sponsored answers and offers."
Ask.com released the second version of its iPhone app on May 19 to get ready for a bigger campaign that runs through Labor Day. The initiative will involve 10 Six Flags in major markets and will include frequent ads on digital in-park screens that encourage patrons to play an Ask.com-branded "Skip the Line" game on their iPhone. Players can earn points and win jumps in line at the amusement park if they answer trivia questions correctly.
The GPS-enabled app detects when users come within a two-mile radius of a Six Flags and alerts them of the amusement park location. According to Ask.com, the app has averaged 260,000 monthly unique users.
Leeds said, "With more than half of Six Flags guests being smart phone users, the in-app game builds on the early test with a location-aware launch trigger…and with new features like a player scoreboard and the ability to post scores on Facebook."
Meanwhile, Six Flags has also been orchestrating campaigns with the likes of Dodge, Jeep, Cadbury, and VH1. The Grand Prairie, TX-based amusement park has worked with the brands to utilize potential impressions as attendees experience "dwell time," or standing in lines for Ferris Wheel rides and other activities.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.