Marketing Feedback Cards Go Digital Via Cell Phones

by , Feb 27, 2008, 5:00 AM
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Walk into any Apple, JCPenney, Sony, or Wal-Mart store and provide instant feedback on products via text messages from cell phones. That's the long-term vision of Glenn Allison, who along with several other Northwestern University graduate students co-founded tech startup Mimieo to develop software applications for marketers.

The futuristic marketing app may appeal mostly to the Gen Y generation, which freely shares and posts likes and dislikes on social networks such as Facebook and Bebo, but the underlying technology aims to build bridges across many Web sites and mobile devices to provide marketers with real-time data on a variety of products and services.

"Say you're in JCPenney's standing in front of a product you didn't like," Allison says. "You have a mobile device in hand that can provide instant feedback to the retailer. It's unmistakable. There's no denying that Generation Y wants to share experiences with others."

Mimieo's long-term vision for marketing services may become reality sooner than some think. The core program that aggregates feedback from multiple channels and social network sites has been developed and tested through several Web and mobile surveys.

The most recent, an online and mobile poll, asked consumers to rank how well they liked the entertainment value of each ad during the Academy Awards, and whether they were more or less likely to purchase the product after seeing the commercial.

On Oscar night, a panel of graduate students analyzed the data from polls and has published a report on the findings. High marks were awarded by viewers to JCPenney, MasterCard, Coca-Cola, and L'Oreal.

JCPenney introduced the American Living brand. The ads gave glimpses into American life, and a new brand catering to "family and home." A high percentage of both men and women enjoyed the ads, and indications of their preference for the brand increased. Mastercard's "Studious Pupil" commercial was one of the most entertaining. The ad featured a twenty-something guy in a shrunken shirt and red tie "searching for the priceless things in life."

The commercial got favorable responses from poll respondents, and ranked high in entertainment value, particularly among Facebook users. Coca-Cola and L'Oreal were winners, too, according to Allison. Consumers could vote through Facebook online and Apple's iPhone.

In March, Mimieo begins the next step in developing the marketing application. Allison says company developers are working on interfaces to all social networking sites, as well as looking at technology that will enable consumers to provide instant feedback from any mobile device. The information could benefit any restaurant or retail store.

"If companies know why they lose business, they can do something about it," Allison says. "It will take a huge amount of work to pull feedback from thousands of channels, but think of the data this could collect for marketers."

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