SoundBite Launches Free Voice Mail Message Service

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SoundBite Communications Inc. has launched its new messaging service, which allows users to send free voice mail messages once they've listened to a prerecorded eight- to 10-second advertisement.

Callers can dial SoundBite's toll-free number, listen to the advertisement and then record a message that can be delivered to an individual or a group of people. The system can target ads based on the caller's area code and ZIP code.

People who receive such a call listen to the message and can hang up or listen to an ad. A recipient who listens to an ad can reply, forward the message or save it.

Approximately 8 percent of those who receive voice messages from SoundBite users listen to the advertisement, said John McDonough, president of SoundBite, Burlington, MA.

Companies that are using SoundBite ads include Budget Rent a Car Corp., and the Teddy Bear Foundation, a charity in Massachusetts. Ad prices are comparable to Internet banner ad rates, McDonough said.

When messages are sent to groups of people, users can set up and manage their personal group lists at SoundBite's Web site,

When setting up groups online, users can define the groups' interests enabling SoundBite to better target ads to people in the group when they receive messages. For example, users can let SoundBite know if the group is a gardening club or a sports team. SoundBite uses that information when determining which ads people hear.

SoundBite also provides prerecorded message campaigns for clients. Just before the presidential election, SoundBite sent 120,000 prerecorded messages from pop music stars, including Puff Daddy and Jewel, to 18- to 24-year-old recipients. The messages urged those who were called to vote. The client, MTV, is surveying those who received the messages to determine if the effort affected their voting behavior.

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