1,000 Redeem Wireless Coupons During CompUSA Experiment

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CompUSA is reporting favorable results from a wireless coupon campaign it ran in February and March on AvantGo's Mobile Internet Service.


The national coupon, offering 10 percent off personal digital assistant and cell phone accessories at CompUSA's 224 stores, was sent to 2 million PDAs and wireless phones.


AvantGo, San Mateo, CA, hosts an Internet network that allows businesses to deliver content and applications to mobile devices. AvantGo users have access to 1,000 content channels, such as maps, news, stock quotes and weather.


Forty thousand people clicked through on the banner ad touting the CompUSA coupon. Eleven thousand saved it as a channel on their device, for possible use later. In early results, 1,000 people have redeemed the coupon by showing it on their wireless device to cashiers at CompUSA stores.


"It was a very targeted promotion," said Mike Aufricht, general manager of AvantGo Mobile Internet Service. "About 99 percent of the people who received the ad have cell phones, and the ad discounted cell phone and PDA accessories."


In addition, the coupons were readily accessible by mobile users.


"This puts a coupon on a device that people carry around with them wherever they go, as opposed to a coupon in a newspaper," Aufricht said.


Because the coupons were redeemable directly on the device, CompUSA achieved print and distribution cost savings, said John Lostroscio, vice president of merchandising, CompUSA.


However, because it was a new program for the retailer, CompUSA estimates that only about half of its stores complied with the promotion.


"It will take a few times before they [all store personnel] get it," Aufricht said.


Other major advertisers have found success with mobile ads and content, he said. The History Channel sponsored an interactive quiz and asked for e-mail addresses. Bank of America Credit Card Acquisitions recently debuted its first wireless credit card marketing campaign using AvantGo. Mobile users, particularly PDA owners, could fill out a credit card application and submit it to Bank of America via their device.


Toyota promoted its Sequoia sport utility vehicle with graphics of the new vehicle and invited viewers to submit e-mail addresses to be updated about future promotions. Toyota's targeted demographic matched AvantGo's mobile users: highly educated, tech-savvy men ages 25 to 35.


Major advertisers also are buying channels on AvantGo.


Northwest Airlines launched a channel in January, allowing users to check real-time flight and gate status, flight schedules, maps of airports, their WorldPerks mileage and Northwest's Cyberspecials. Users also can request to be alerted on their phone or pager when flights are changed or canceled. "Northwest has been able to reach you through your desktop or by sending information to your home, but has not had a way to reach you while traveling," Aufricht said.


Northwest could expand the channel in the future to include m-commerce transactions as well as surveys.


"You could fill out the survey while sitting on the airplane, when everything is very top of mind," Aufricht said.


Aufricht thinks that in the future, mobile ads will be more successful on PDAs and new smart wireless phones, which act as a phone but also have full PDA functionality.


"The cell phone was designed for voice and has very little memory," he said. "I don't think they're going to be an effective marketing medium."


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