Outdoor Ads Beamed To Palm Devices
That's what Simon & Schuster is doing to promote the new Stephen King book, Everything's Eventual, in New York City. Starting yesterday, one hundred fifty phone kiosks in Manhattan with flashing red lights are beaming excerpts of the book to Palm owners. Streetbeam, a New York company, developed the technology for the ad, and is working with Viacom Outdoor, which sells the program and places the advertising. Its main partner is Verizon, which owns the phone kiosks. Viacom Outdoor is owned by Viacom, like Simon & Schuster.
Streetbeam launched over a year ago with a campaign for Banana Republic and has also done campaigns for American Express, Sotheby's, Morgan Stanley and the San Francisco Opera. Blinking red lights on outdoor print ads communicate with Palm devices, which are pointed at the lights to receive the ads. Users get a message that they're receiving data and five to ten seconds later a transfer occurs. If users accept it, the advertising message pops up. It can be anything from a schedule of opera presentations to an excerpt of the King book, which Simon & Schuster knows will stimulate interest, since it has had success in the past downloading excerpts.
Streetbeam is a limited local advertising opportunity at this point, with New York and San Francisco used so far. Only cities with high Palm penetration are viable. San Francisco is the highest because of the high tech population, with New York close behind, according to Allan Bressler, Streetbeam's chief operating officer. Palm penetration in San Francisco is about 20 percent, he says. Tests have also been done in London and Atlanta.
Advertisers buy Streetbeam as part of an outdoor package that also includes traditional outdoor ads. There is a surcharge for the Palm application, according to Jodi Senese, executive vice president at Viacom Outdoor. She says clients have had success with it, some tracking the number of beams and hits, although she couldn't provide any. "It goes beyond the typical reach and frequency to give consumers something more. You get all the benefits of outdoor and enhance it with instant messaging."
Simon & Schuster is promoting Everything's Eventual with print, radio, movie theater slides and in store. It's using Streetbeam because "Stephen King is always pushing the envelope. It's a challenge to keep up with his creative efforts to market his books," according to Adam Rothberg, a S&S spokesman. King made waves with the first big e-book, Riding the Bullet, in 2000. Everything's Eventual isn't an e-book, but it's using a new form of electronic promotion to stimulate demand for the hard cover.