SkyGo Bets on Convergence

Wireless marketer SkyGo is aiming to tap into growing efforts to create cross-media marketing products, with the debut of its SkyCode offering.

Marketers using the product can embed short numeric codes into their traditional ads, which consumers can dial on their mobile phone to immediately receive an interactive advertisement — to get more information on a product service, to sign-up for marketing messages and special offers, or to make an impulse buy.

The concept thus aims to connect offline ads to mobile Internet ads, which are thought to be more effective at communicating with consumers because of their interactive nature.

The company’s plan also hinges on the explosive growth in consumer mobile phones during the past decade — a phenomenon that some believe will soon result in wireless connections outnumbering television households. With increasing numbers of handsets being made Internet-capable, SkyGo is betting that its solution will find traction among marketers, and among carriers, who get a cut of campaign revenue.

“From our early research and wireless campaign experience, we know that to the mobile consumer, compelling offers that involve nearly zero-effort convenience are paramount,” said SkyGo chairman and chief executive Derek Proudian. “SkyCode … leverages the unique characteristics of mobile devices to increase the consumer’s level of engagement with a traditional advertising campaign. The mobile phone itself is not the medium; it becomes the remote control that allows the consumer to interact with any advertiser at any chosen time.”

“Our goal is to help wireless carriers empower marketers to regularly incorporate mobile data services into their offline media spending, which today represents more than $400 billion globally,” he added.

The SkyCode can deliver interactive content via the caller’s phone data protocol, be it WAP, SMS or i-mode. VeriSign’s wireless resolution platform provides the technology behind the service, by allowing for the global registration of SkyCode codes and connecting them to mobile Internet sites.

SkyGo isn’t the only one dabbling in the field, however. Earlier this year, New York-based Elbit began work with NBC to include its NowCode mobile phone codes in TV ads promoting the network’s broadcast of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The spots encouraged viewers to dial a special code — #NOW — on their phones to register for an Olympic-themed sweepstakes. Additionally, wireless application developers like GiantBear have been experimenting with the technology.

Still, SkyGo remains the near the front of the pack, in large part due to partnerships with established online media sellers like Advertising.com. It also has a presence in Asia, having run SkyCode promotions across major wireless carriers in Hong Kong. (At one point, SkyGo also had a joint representation deal with now-defunct Hong Kong ad network AdSociety.)

The firm also said it plans to expand the service to new international markets later this year.

The launch continues longstanding efforts by online and emerging media ad players to link their services to bigger-budget offline advertising efforts. In only the most recent example, online incentive marketer e-centives confirmed that it had purchased rival technology firm BrightStreet, in a bid to link offline sales and redemptions with its Web-based promotions. Online ad giant DoubleClick also recently launched an service that enables clients of its Abacus offline co-op database to track multi-channel campaigns.

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