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Hurricanes Stir Up Impulse Buys

The National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes launched a third wireless campaign Monday to drive impulse ticket purchases.

The Hurricanes, Raleigh, NC, teamed with wireless ad network WindWire to serve 10,000 wireless ad impressions pitching tickets to the Jan. 20 home game against the Los Angeles Kings. This latest push, which offered a $5 discount on each ticket purchased, is the team's largest wireless marketing effort. It follows a campaign promoting a Jan. 6 game as well as a preseason test.

The campaign for the Jan. 6 game against the Colorado Avalanche had an 8 percent response rate, with 400 of the 5,000 wireless ad recipients clicking through. Thirty tickets were sold through the ads.

The Hurricanes' first taste of wireless advertising came from a preseason test. The 1,000-impression effort, which attempted to drive sales for mini season ticket packages, had a 15 percent click-through rate. The Hurricanes did not track ticket sales for that effort.

Research showed that a majority of tickets are purchased two days before a game, said Howard Sadel, the team's director of new media and graphic communications. Through wireless advertising, Sadel believes the Hurricanes can reach local fans and business travelers in its target market of 18- to 45-year-olds.

“We're in a very techno-savvy geographical area. There are lots of business travelers in the area due to Nortel and Cisco [having offices nearby],” Sadel said. “The opportunity to reach them on wireless devices appealed to us because we expect our target to spend more time on the cell phone than on the computer.”

The goal is to serve ads only to devices in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, primarily to wireless devices within an 80-mile radius of the Entertainment & Sports Arena, the Hurricanes' home.

While it is difficult to know exactly where a cell phone user is, it is much easier to pinpoint users of more advanced wireless Web devices.

“Our servers communicate with cell towers and can [pinpoint] exactly where Palm Pilots are located,” said Billy Purser, senior manager of marketing at WindWire, Morrisville, NC.

WindWire said ads have run on the wireless adaptations of entertainment site 10Best.com; online game site iEntertainment.com; and WRAL-TV.com, the online effort of CBS' Raleigh affiliate. WRAL-TV and 10Best were chosen because of their relevance to the Raleigh area. 10Best features an entertainment section devoted to the region.

With iEntertainment, Purser said, “we just thought the demographics were correct.”

Response rates to wireless ad banners on WRAL-TV and 10Best have been slightly better than rates for ads on iEntertainment.

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