Free Paging Service Offered in Exchange for Instant Ads

Totally Free Inc., Culver City, CA, will offer advanced paging services and instant e-mail, voice mail and fax notification to consumers who agree to have advertisements show up on their alphanumeric pagers.

The service will offer marketers the chance to take advantage of highly specified niche marketing. When customers first sign up for the paging services, they are asked a series of questions, including age, marital status, income, favorite hobbies and medical interests. Then, when an advertiser comes to Totally Free to place an ad, they can specify exactly when, where and whom they want to receive their instant advertisement.

“Whenever a pager goes off, a person is going to look at it; so we know that when we send an ad that person is going to immediately look at the ad,” said Totally Free CEO David Uman. “You can't guarantee that through any other medium.”

Each customer also is given their own e-mail address as well as a custom home page on the Internet, which corresponds to the number of their pager. All faxes, e-mails and voice mails are stored for 30 days. Uman stressed that he wants to use the Internet to provide even more avenues for marketers. “We can go to a dot-com company with free services and offer them the opportunity to develop a revenue model with us because we can share the cost of the pager together,” Uman said.

Uman said that since there are only three lines of ad space per page, advertisers might think that such a concept would only be beneficial for strictly brand advertising. But he says they are wrong.

“There are a lot of things we can do with the pager besides just branding advertisements. We can also do coupons. Say, for example, at 11 p.m. every day a restaurant wants to reach male teenagers,” Uman said. “We can do a page to every male teenager that is in the area of that restaurant that reads 'bring this pager into the restaurant and receive a free hamburger.'”

Plans also are in the works between Totally Free and some major media companies to provide critical, real-time information like breaking news, sports, stock prices, weather and even horoscopes intermingled with advertising. Uman added that he also is talking to Net-based pharmaceutical companies that can use the service to notify customers when their medication is sent or even when to take their pills.

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