iTag Saves a Marketer’s Message Long After the Ad Is Over

A product in final testing promises to solve one of the major challenges for direct marketers advertising on the radio: How to ensure that consumers remember the advertiser’s phone number, Web address and other details once the ad is over.

iTag, created by Xenote, San Mateo, CA, allows consumers to bookmark a company’s ad from their radio and retrieve the information once they get to their PCs.

About the size of a car-alarm remote control, the device is being tested by 5,000 people and five radio stations in the San Francisco area. Xenote expects it will be available in 75 leading radio markets starting mid-year. Stations and advertisers will market and distribute iTag free to consumers.

“People spend more time in the offline world than they do in the online world, and we want to make the space between the two closer,” said Mark Kaufmann, vice president of marketing at Xenote. “For advertisers, radio is a phenomenal reach medium but not an entirely effective direct response medium. We are looking to connect a less responsive medium, radio, to the most responsive medium ever, the Internet.”

When a consumer hears an ad or a song he wants to remember, he points iTag at the radio and presses a button on the device. This creates a tag that captures the time and frequency of the radio station. The consumer can then connect iTag to the serial port of his personal computer and access a personal page created on Xenote’s Web site. Once there, the consumer can download stored tags to the site.

Xenote designates different tags for advertisements and music. For advertisements, consumers can click an icon that links them directly to the company’s site. For musical tags, there will be two icons consumers can click on. One will offer the consumer a 30-second sample of the song. The other will provide information such as the album the song is from, a photo of the album cover, listing of sites where they can purchase the album; buy button, album rating, biography of the artist and listing of the artist’s other albums. The buy button is currently linked to CDNow’s site, but will be added later this month.

“We are not interested in exclusive marketing agreements with retailers,” Kaufmann said. “What we want to do is provide consumers with as many choices as possible. We are even going to be providing the names of bricks-and-mortar stores for those who are not comfortable shopping online. People will be able to print out a coupon and then go to that retail location.”

Xenote will strike exclusive marketing deals with retailers who assist the company in the production and distribution of the iTag device.

“If a company is going to help us with that,” Kaufmann said, “then the consumer’s iTag will be identified as coming form that particular retailer, and when they decide to make a purchase, they will automatically be linked to that site.”

Participating online retailers will not be given access to any of the information Xenote compiles on consumers, unless the customers give permission to give out such information.

Plans for subsequent versions of the device include the ability for advertisers to entice consumers with special offers if they respond to ads within a certain period of time. And the Xenote is working on a model that will allow consumers to click on the bar codes of products and save that information as a tag.

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