Device Lets Customers Store Print Ads in E-Mail

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Findthedot is expected to announce today Dotfinders, a scanner-like device that publishers can distribute to readers to create print-to-e-mail-advertising opportunities.


Dotfinders is the size of key chain ornaments, weigh 1 ounce and are to be used by Internet-enabled consumers. Findthedot is banking on the belief that consumers, once shown the uses of Dotfinder, will want to use a handy device to store information as they read magazines and newspapers.


The battery-operated devices were designed to utilize a coding system developed by Findthedot. In the system, each ad or editorial piece is assigned a small digital symbol.


When users scan a symbol, the Dotfinder records attached information, such as coupons. The information is eventually transmitted from the device to users' e-mail addresses. The e-mails are then available for review and can, for example, include site links for special offers.


To use the system, users will have to upload Findthedot's program off a compact disc and onto their hard drives. Companies interested in the product will have to distribute the discs and devices themselves, as well as acquire customers' e-mail addresses to make the system workable.


The product will help firms build on print ad efforts by allowing consumers to remind themselves via the e-mail of their interest in a product or company, said Kim Rubin, CEO of Findthedot.


For instance, publications can allow advertisers to target readers with promotional information not available at an ad - such as store locations or pricing comparisons.


Extending an ad from print to e-mail will make print ads more attractive to marketers and allow publications to charge more for their space, said Rubin.


"In the near term, advertisers and physical users will use [Dotfinder] to significantly improve the effectiveness of print advertising," he said.


The devices let users store editorial content as well. And while newspapers and magazines are primary targets for Findthedot, Rubin said that phone book publishers, catalogers and research firms have also expressed interest in the product.


Findthedot, Oakland, CA, is currently providing the devices to three companies in a trial run, but will not officially have the service underway until early 2000. However, Rubin said, the program takes months to implement and his firm is ready for negotiations now.


Pricing on Dotfinders was not disclosed. Visit www.findthedot.com for more information.
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