MARKETING TECHNOLOGY: High-tech ways to hit moving targets - Marketers must wise up to new technology, because online ads and touchscreen shopping are the future, says Fran Littlewood

While some marketers are yet to be won round by the benefits technology can offer them, others are now embracing the latest offerings as a vital way of increasing customer contact.

While some marketers are yet to be won round by the benefits

technology can offer them, others are now embracing the latest offerings

as a vital way of increasing customer contact.



A growing number of media channels are the enabling forces behind a

number of recent initiatives - many aimed at reaching busy consumers on

the move.



New media creatives are out in force trying to tap into opportunities

that have yet to be exploited.



Car drivers are one of the latest groups to be targeted. Sony Music and

Warners Home Video, among others, have signed up to advertise their

wares on a digital TV network being installed at petrol forecourts in

Granada motorway service stations. The TV network, called The Gas

Station, will be funded by advertisers. Programming will include news,

weather reports, traffic items and safety messages - the programming

spots will all be sponsored.



’It is opening up a whole new world to advertisers,’ says Mark Healey,

director at On-Line Creative Media, which is operating the channel. He

explains that the cost of a 20-second ad slot for four weeks is a mere

pounds 220 because it is a fledgling operation.



In a similar move, BT is gearing up to trial a service which will reward

customers who listen to advertising messages over the phone with free

talk time. Customers key in a pin number, listen to a ten-second ad and

then get a two minute-long free call. Tony Benfield, BT Freetime product

manager, says the service is designed to appeal to students and

’cost-conscious households’.



The pilot follows successful implementations in Sweden and Denmark,

which claim 10%-15% response rates to ads from customers. Recall rates

are also high: ’Because it’s an ad within a phone call, you have high

concentration rates,’ he says. Customers also fill in a questionnaire,

so advertisers can pinpoint their target audience by gender, age or

region. Advertisers will be charged 25p for each ad delivered. Similar

initiatives in the UK have failed to get off the ground.



Marketers are looking to mobile telephony too. Digital communications

agency Razorfish has joined forces with a number of companies, including

airline Finnair, to develop wireless internet applications which will

enable frequent fliers to check flight schedules and book flights using

their telephone handsets.



Passengers at Heathrow airport are also being targeted by marketers via

a new network of interactive touch screen and TV kiosks (see box).

Dedicated kiosks, such as the one set up for Honda by new media agency

Interesource at this year’s motor show, are also being implemented more

widely. The Honda kiosk comprised ’call to action’ advertising,

interactive movies, ’virtual’ car models, and data capture facilities to

generate customer leads.



The next internet marketing trend to reach the UK is expected to be the

’smart push’. Following on from e-mails promoting products, smart push

sends an all-singing all-dancing interactive e-mail to mail boxes.



But the new crop of marketing models are being met with some scepticism

by media buyers and industry commentators. ’Brand strategy in the

information age means you have to embrace the new technologies, but

there’s lots of hype,’ says Geoff Dowell, chairman at marketing

consultancy Dowell Associates.



Chris Hull, head of marketing at direct marketing firm, Customer Contact

Company, says: ’There is a concern that when people look at new contact

solutions the last thing they think about in the chain of events is the

customer.’



Justyn Lucas, associate director at Media Campaign Services, believes

marketers will come up with appropriate solutions for projects through a

process of ’trial and error’. He says: ’Everyone is in the dark and no

one wants to be left in second place.’



Most agree that the convergence of the internet and digital interactive

TV will form the hub of the new media wave. But solutions may emerge

more slowly than is being touted. Cameron Piper, broadcast director at

Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB, says: ’If anything, new media at the moment

has got less impact than conventional messages - it’s not that creative.

It will happen, but later than you think.’



INTERACTIVITY AT HEATHROW



Travellers passing through Heathrow airport with a bit of time on their

hands will soon be able to order next week’s grocery shopping, sign up

to a dating agency, or check the latest news and weather - all at the

touch of a button.



UK company WAM Interactive is rolling out a network of interactive

touchscreen stations enabling marketers to target the 30 million

passengers who depart from the airport each year. The stations, called

WAMworlds, comprise between two and four TV screens relaying a continual

20-minute loop of advertising, an electronic messaging board and a

touchscreen terminal, which provide online news, sport and weather, and

access to advertisers’ web-style sites.



WAM Interactive managing director, Frances Dickens says: ’The stations

offer an impressive array of services.’



Advertisers that have signed up to the service include Avis, the car

rental firm, IT company Hewlett Packard, and Hugo Boss watches. Each has

developed a broadcast advertising strand and a site detailing

information about the product and company. HP is pushing its new palmtop

computer and people can order a brochure online.



Interflora is putting the finishing. touches to its application and will

go live in a fortnight. Customers will be able to use the touchscreen

terminal to order flowers online. Dickens says a number of other big

name companies will be on board in the next couple of months. These

include a supermarket which will provide a home delivery service, and a

dating agency. It has yet to find sponsors for the news, sport and

weather screens, which will be branded.



A data capture form on the site enables the company to put together

profiles of WAMworld users - a monthly draw for a bottle of champagne is

helping to entice 1000 people a week to fill in the form. Statistics so

far show that as many business travellers as holiday makers are using

the system.



Nineteen per cent of people leaving their details fly ten or more times

a year.



It will cost marketers pounds 125,000 a year to secure an ad spot and

web site space, which will run across the terminals throughout Heathrow.

WAM Interactive is promising advertisers exclusivity in their sector.

Dickens compares the cost with an average pounds 10,000 price-tag for a

full-page ad in one edition of a quality Sunday newspaper. But she

concedes that advertisers ’have definitely got to have the courage to

stick their neck out’.



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