Preps Wireless Ad Serving Launch

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Online advertising start-up is preparing to stake its claim in the wireless advertising arena with the launch of short-message-servicing ad serving technology in September.

WinWin, Boston, said it will serve banner ads on a network of roughly 35 Web sites by 2002 and have five million profiles of consumers who will volunteer information about themselves in return for being paid to view and click on ads in the network.

Under the company's wireless initiative, visitors to Web sites in the WinWin network will be asked to provide their mobile phone numbers and to answer a set of questions about gender, age and personal interests. This information will be leveraged into the wireless network as a tool to personally target WinWin customers, said Vijay Mayadas, chief strategist and technology officer at WinWin.

WinWin is in the process of developing short-message servicing technology that will enable it to direct questions to potential customers on their mobile phones. The technology also will be available in wireless markup language format for consumers with WAP hand-held devices.

WinWin will serve wireless ads covering the entire spectrum of advertisers, from multinational industry giants to mom-and-pop restaurants. Mayadas noted that the firm hopes to serve ads to up to 60,000 mobile phones by year-end, with the goal of reaching 2 million consumers by 2002.

"The quality of WinWin's data mining system will enable us to differentiate from other wireless ad serving competitors," Mayadas said. Competing firms do not have the data mining capabilities to microtarget consumers, he added. Chris Parente, vice president of corporate communications at, Baltimore, noted that his firm does microtarget wireless consumers based on past preferences, which he maintained is an effective form of targeting.

WinWin will charge advertisers $1 per consumer reached through its short-message servicing system. Under the firm's existing online pricing structure, advertisers are charged a varying cost-per-impression fee; 50 cents each time a customer acknowledges a banner by clicking on a special WinWin icon; and $1 for each click-through. WinWin pays consumers on the network 20 percent of the money it charges advertisers.

Consumers on the wireless network also will be compensated with money or free mobile phone minutes, Mayadas said, noting that WinWin is still determining the specifics of the payment structure. Parente noted that while WinWin's payout structure is unique, it might lead to incentive-driven click-throughs. Mayadas, however, said that the ultimate concern from advertisers is for consumers to view their ads.

Mayadas emphasized that the personal information utilized for consumer payment is strictly stored in an off-line data vault and is not connected to the anonymous online and wireless targeting network.

WinWin is currently working on developing partnerships with various wireless ASPs, content providers, cellular portals and information services, Mayadas said, adding that it is too early in the process to disclose any specifics on potential partnerships.

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