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CBS exec: SMS more valuable than QR codes

Broadcast network CBS has opted for SMS calls to action as opposed to QR codes within its print advertisments to draw in primetime viewers.

CBS is creating buzz for its fall lineup that includes five new series with SMS calls to action, which let consumers learn more about the TV shows. The ads bridge mobile, video and print.

?Everyone has phones that support SMS,? said Philippe Browning, vice president of advertising and operations at CBS Mobile, Los Angeles.

?QR codes have an added barrier with a download and although we are interested in it and have experimented with the technology, it doesn?t have the same value of a text," he said.

Text tie
Print ads promoting the network?s new series are placed in People, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and Maxim magazine.

The ads are targeted towards specific demographics depending on which publication they appear in, but People magazine was the only title to feature all five ads.

For example, the upcoming CBS? series "How to be a Gentleman," which is a comedy about a quirky friendship between two men, will likely appear in Maxim.

Consumers can call the phone number on print ads to learn more about the shows

Each ad has a call to action that prompts consumers to call a phone number.

Consumers are then sent a text message with a link to a video clip promoting the show.

?Three out of the five ads give users a 60-second video, which is a substantial amount of time,? said Anne O?Grady, executive vice president of marketing at CBS, New York.

?Print is wonderful, but to take it to the next level, people actually need to see something additional,? she said.

With this campaign, CBS was interested in using SMS because of its simple format that draws in any consumer with a mobile phone.

?We wanted to do something that everyone could interact with,? Ms. O?Grady said.

SMS is particularly useful for print advertisements because it makes a static medium more interactive by connecting readers to digital content. Also, there is no need to download an application.

?We try to use as many forms of marketing that we can get our hands on to reach our consumers,? Ms. O?Grady said.

?We wanted to use short codes because it?s an easy way to incorporate mobile and give users additional content,? she said.

Making the trek
CBS? SMS-enabled ads are the latest string of mobile developments for the company.

The company launched an iPad companion in the past few weeks that lets viewers learn more about the shows and casts.

CBS also recently created an iPad app that plugged Star Trek fans into the beloved series (see story).

?CBS is actively working with all of its distribution channels to mobile, whether it?s with print, Web, broadcast or physical mediums,? Mr. Browning said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York