Clear Channel And USA Today Dial Up Branded Mobile Codes

Clear Channel and USA Today have signed on as the first clients for Zoove, which offers a branded mobile code that can be used for couponing and various other phone-based promotions. The service is being marketed as a way to pitch mobile offers – via offline venues – without consumers having to use their phones as scanners.

While neither Clear Channel nor USA Today disclosed what they are paying for the service, Palo Alto, CA-based Zoove said the standard version starts at $10,000 annually. Participating companies get a branded mobile code consisting of two star keys followed by their name, acronym, or symbol. For instance: USA Today (**USA) and Clear Channel properties Time Out New York (**TONY) and I Heart Radio (**IHR). Consumers dial the codes in the same fashion as normal phone numbers before receiving either the marketer’s kickback text message, a custom voice mail, a video, a mobile Web page, or a coupon.

Marci Weisler, digital business director for Time Out New York North America, said her brand has used the code to push its iPhone app since the beginning of June, and will do the same for the Android version when it launches this summer. She said the company is running ads in the brand’s print weekly magazine as well as displays on NewYork.TimeOut.com. The mobile code (**TONY) is prominent in the ads.

After a person dials a **TONY code, he or she receives a text. Within that text is a link that launches the download page in the iPhone app store.

“For a brand that uses different channels to reach an audience, this is a great way to drive people – particularly offline – to download our app,” Weisler said. “I think the system just cuts a lot of steps out and makes conversion a lot easier.”

The campaign is in its early stages, but Weisler suggested downloads of the free iPhone app have accelerated since the Zoove system was implemented. “It’s much easier than going through the heavier duty process of going into the app store and looking around while trying to find it,” she said.

USA Today was not available to discuss how it plans to employ the mobile code for marketing purposes. But Dov Cohn, Zoove’s VP of marketing and product development, described some general possibilities.

“The brands configure and schedule campaigns that can run sequentially,” he said. “For example, for a month they may direct callers to their website, and then the next month switch to deliver a mobile coupon, using the same code.”

On Monday, Zoove announced an agreement with AT&T to enable the system for that carrier’s customers. Cohn said Verizon will be added in two weeks.

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.

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