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Cox Tries Texting in Ads

Jan 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Cox is rolling out a mobile advertising component for its marketers starting this month, in a new initiative that should reach most of its footprint by year end.
The mobile capability builds on a handful of experiments Cox conducted in the fall in northern Virginia, San Diego, New England and Las Vegas to loop in text messaging to its TV ads.
Cox advertisers can include a tag in their spots urging consumers to send a text message to receive a special offer, tailored to each advertiser’s needs. That’s similar to how consumers vote for “American Idol” contestants.
The solution is low-tech, but it has produced strong results with early marketers. Also, the new offering gives Cox a toehold in mobile marketing as advertisers explore this nascent medium.
Mobile ad spending will grow from $1.6 billion in 2008 to $4.8 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer.
“We are looking full circle at what advertising can do,” said Peter Schultz, director of advanced advertising at Cox Media. “You have a 30-second spot, you layer with other technology like VOD and long-form ads, and interactive overlays and request for information, but there is still no force driving them to the final sale.”
Mr. Schultz said he hopes the mobile connection can close that loop. “We are making it relevant to you and sending the offer to your cell phone to drive you to the store,” he said.
Cox offers the mobile option via a partnership with marketing firm Ping Mobile, which handles the management of the mobile campaigns.
Cox first tested the mobile tie-in in September with gourmet pizza chain Vocelli in northern Virginia. The commercials included a tag letting consumers know they could send a text message to receive a coupon for money off a pizza. If a consumer sent in that first message, Cox then sent back a reply asking if they wanted to opt in to the Vocelli mobile club and receive additional discounts, Mr. Schultz said.
With the Vocelli campaign, Cox ran about 100 spots per week across various cable channels. Based on Nielsen ratings, Mr. Schultz estimates about 0.5% of viewers who saw the ads requested a coupon. That number is higher than most Internet ad click-through rates.
Of those who requested the coupon, 56% went on to redeem the coupon at a store and 32% chose to opt in to the Vocelli mobile club.
While text messaging is a seemingly simple entry into mobile marketing, Cox needed the partnership with Ping Mobile to manage the campaign, the database and compliance with marketing guidelines.
“When you send a message to a friend, you don’t need permission, but for a company to send a message it does need permission,” said Ping Mobile CEO Shira Simmonds. Clients include Delta Airlines, Macy’s, Sharper Image and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

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