Mobile commerce

Zoove's Short Dialing Codes Go Cross-Carrier

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. joined their larger peers Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Monday in syncing up with startup Zoove for a form of mobile marketing that's even simpler than SMS campaigns. (See T-Mobile & Sprint Get On Board With Zoove.)

Zoove hosts an exclusive registry of short-dialing codes called StarStar Numbers for mobile advertising. AT&T and Verizon began offering these numbers, which are like the mobile equivalent of vanity plates for companies, last June. Now, Monday's announcement means Zoove has locked up the entire Tier 1 market in the U.S.

The 1-800-like service works by providing unique shortcodes, preceded by two stars -- in the form of **BRAND -- for companies to promote on TV, radio, billboard or print campaigns. When consumers dial that number, they receive a text message offering more information in the form of a mobile data app, Web page, coupon, video or other mobile content.

Some of Zoove's existing customers include Suzuki, CBS and Flowers.com, as well as more generic vanity numbers for groups like "**LAW" to connect to law firms.

Why this matters
The value in this rather basic form of mobile advertising is that it's entirely opt-in and it doesn’t require anything that the phone doesn't already have, like 2-D bar-code readers, near-field communications or even cross-carrier SMS shortcodes.

Services like Zoove's add weight to the argument that wireless operators and mobile advertisers are best served with proven, simple channels like voice or SMS to target consumers. While some are experimenting with 3-D banner or video ads, mobile marketing campaigns that focus on the phone's basic elements, like voice or SMS, tend to have high success rates -- and for companies like Zoove, could be very lucrative. (See MWC 2011: Operators Play With SMS Ads.)

Zoove charges a brand a higher price the more generic, and thus easier to remember, the code gets. CNET reports that two-letter codes start at $75,000 per year, plus a fee for traffic and use of the cloud tech that matches the correct mobile page or link to the handset. The carriers are also paid a fee for use of their networks, so it appears to be a win-win for all involved.

As Zoove noted in both its Sprint and T-Mobile releases, getting embedded in the carriers' networks took years or "rigorous technical integration efforts across their network." It's a big boon to this company to now have all four Tier 1 U.S. operators locked in. For more
For more on the different schools of thought behind mobile advertising, check out the following stories:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:10:33 PM
re: Zoove's Short Dialing Codes Go Cross-Carrier

I tried this out by calling **CBS, except the text I got resulted in me donating $10 to the American Cancer Society. That's why short, generic codes are the most expensive, but I wonder how they deal with companies with the same combo. Apparently, the NBA, NBC and Mac are battling it out for their digit series, which is the same for all three.

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