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Alcatel-Lucent, 1020 Placecast partner on location-based mobile advertising

Alcatel-Lucent and 1020 Placecast will jointly offer mobile service providers and brands a location-based service that delivers messaging and ads to opted-in consumers.

The network service can support millions of subscribers, making proximity marketing campaigns for service providers and marketers a reality. It creates an environment where service providers and advertisers can partner in developing and delivering a new generation of revenue-generating mobile advertising services to customers, a market that is expected to reach nearly $5 billion in U.S. service provider revenue by 2011, according to Heavy Reading Research.

"We have the ability in the marketplace to focus geographic-based content on users in real time, because of the ability of Alcatel-Lucent to know where a user is geographically via their mobile phone," said Mark Disbrow, head of the location-based services division of Alcatel-Lucent, Paris.

"We set up geofences so that when a consumer enters a specific geographic area, we can then alert the Placecast system, and they can take the georgraphic content from a specific region for a specific brand and deliver it to opted-in consumers," he said.

"For example, a retailer like Target could run a campaign to get people to sign up for an alert service, so that when consumers are near a store, they would receive an ad or a coupon, and that simple scenario can get much more complicated as brands and advertisers want to zero in to a specific segment of their customer base."

Alcatel-Lucent's 5130 Geographic Messaging Services Platform (GMSP) enables carriers to reach mobile users and offer automatic delivery of messages such as coupons, promotions and other information that are relevant to their immediate physical environment.

Using the first a scalable push-messaging Geofencing system, messages are delivered based on geographic targeting.

Content is only sent once a user has entered the target zone, or geofence perimeter.

Subscribers opt-in to the types of content and alerts they want to receive.

"This increases the purchasing potential of the brands' products, and it adds to stickiness of consumer for carriers, so it benefits the whole value chain," Mr. Disbrow said. "The most effective way to get consumers to opt in is the value they get from the service, and that's where we want the brands to step up their marketing messages to bring relevant, geographically focused messages to the end users.

"Really it's the relevance to end users that will make them sign up and tell their friends, because it doesn't cost them anything and they get this great information and discounts," he said. "The carriers have no investment they have to make, and there's lot of upside on the revenue-sharing potential.

"All they have to do is provide location information for opted-in consumers and a few links on their Web site to advertise the service."

The partners are in discussions with all the major carriers in North America, several European carriers and a few in the Asia-Pacific region, although no agreements have been announced.

This joint offering from Alcatel-Lucent and 1020 Placecast will let mobile service providers offer consumers an opt-in service where they will receive a mobile message offering a discount at a nearby retailer.

The message could include the store address, phone number, proximity to the customer and other branded and carrier-developed content.

The goal of the platform is to maximize advertising effectiveness in reaching brands' target audiences, thereby generating increased advertising spend with service providers.

As part of this offering, 1020 Placecast works with advertisers to create scalable, location-based messaging campaigns that will be pushed to consumers' mobile devices in SMS and MMS formats.

The content is managed and delivered by Alcatel-Lucent for the service provider as a hosted service.

Alcatel-Lucent's Geographic Messaging Services Platform, or GMSP, enables mobile consumers to sign up for the service and receive pushed content when and where they want.

One of the key benefits of mobile marketing is the precise location targeting inherent in mobile devices and communication networks, according to the Kelsey Group, which can increase ads' relevancy.

The turnkey Alcatel-Lucent hosted service delivers messages and advertisements to any mobile device and screen without a capital investment by service providers.

Subscribers sign-up for the service and select the kinds of messages and offers they want to receive.

Their privacy is protected and remains confidential because their exact location is never revealed, only the fact that they have entered a designated geographical area.

Alcatel-Lucent's technology allows 1020 Placecast to trigger the delivery of a tailored marketing message to a subscriber who has opted into the service when they enter a specific zone.

"We've been talking about proximity-based marketing for some time, and now we see it at scale," said Alistair Goodman, CEO of Placecast, San Francisco, CA. "This is marketing as a service, rather than marketing as an intrusion.

"Marketers will be able to develop a relationship with that consumer that's very valuable, and the big advantage is to add local relevance to the message so it becomes valuable to consumer and do that at scale," he said.

"Relative to running the same static ad for everyone, we've seen improvement in click-to-call performance upwards of 100 percent when the ad is customized by zip code or phone number so they know the store is nearby."