New Interface Keeps AvantGo Avant-Garde

The AvantGo wireless Internet service launches a new user interface in December for personal digital assistants, wireless-enabled PDAs as well as voice- and data-capable smartphone users.

The interface lets owners of such handheld devices easily sync using their wireless service. AvantGo claims this is akin to “dynamic mobility” — the ability to view content offline or being able to select and sync new content anytime, anywhere.

“This new functionality dramatically expands the AvantGo service to a much wider audience,” said James Ryan, editorial director of AvantGo, Dublin, CA. “We’re no longer tied to a desktop sync model. We’ll now offer a complete mobile solution.”

AvantGo, whose iAnywhere Solutions parent is owned by Sybase Inc., has equally big plans for next year. The service uses iAnywhere’s technology to synchronize wireless-optimized Web sites to PDA and smartphone users through a desktop or mobile Internet connection.

In early 2005, it will introduce new ad serving technology. This will help AvantGo’s media content channels target ad campaigns to specific demographic and geographic audiences that are part of the company’s subscriber registration.

Another aspect of the technology’s launch is that it lets AvantGo aggregate page impressions inventory within the entire service. It can then target and deliver ad banners based on demographic and geographic profiles.

“With this functionality, we’ll be able to create a real advertising network strategy, deliver greater sell-through and generate more revenue for our media channel customers,” said Neil Versen, senior director of AvantGo.

Late next year, AvantGo will expand its service to WiFi-enabled notebook computers with Internet access. This extension targets the business traveler on the road.

The company also plans improvements to its customer support, customer signup and installation processes. And new applications and e-commerce capabilities are expected. Details were not disclosed.

AvantGo created in-market buyers channels in October for Volkswagen-owned Audi, Honda Motor’s Acura and General Motors Corp.’s Cadillac. Users in the mood to buy can access purchase-related information such as images, specs and dealer locations from their mobile devices.

In addition, the company developed a PDA wallpaper branding campaign for GM’s Corvette. It also created a PDA “Concentration” game promotion for Microsoft Office that gave business consumers information on product features in an entertaining manner.

“Technologies like mobile video delivery/applications, which will be available within the next year, should also provide new avenues for advertisers to reach buyers,” Ryan said.

AvantGo celebrates two milestones this month: its fifth year of existence and 1 billion subscriber syncs. An average AvantGo user subscribes to six to eight channels of content with nearly 100 pages of content per sync, the company said. Nearly 50 percent of the users view content on their handheld device at least once daily. The service is free to users, but not to marketers.

The company is responsible for many innovations since its debut in 1999: the first PDA text ad; the first WAP ad; the first PDA graphic banner ad; the first interactive PDA ad; the first marketing survey conducted exclusively on PDAs and smartphones; and the first in-market buyer PDA auto showroom.

AvantGo also introduced the first one-tap-to-add marketing channel feature, the first calendar entry insertion from an advertising link, the first pre-post brand awareness study on a PDA and the first one-tap-to-sync PDA marketing game application.

“We’ve really just reached the tip of the iceberg with mobile marketing,” Versen said. “With newer and more sophisticated smartphone devices coming onto the market every day, and the growing adoption of the wireless-enabled laptop, consumers will increasingly have access to content anywhere, anytime via sync and wireless services.”

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