Sports Text Signs Sony As First Advertiser

Mobile ads/Omnilert LLC

A Sony Pictures Web site has signed as the first advertiser for a service where leagues send text messages to alert people about rainouts, delays and other information.

The service RainedOut is used by some 2,000 entities, from local soccer leagues to lacrosse teams to regional racetracks. Sony is promoting its video site and serving as the first advertiser on messages disseminated by the 6-year-old RainedOut, part of Leesburg, Va.-based Omnilert.

The system is set up where advertisers get 20 characters at the end of an alert to include a message and a hyperlinked URL, where a recipient with a smartphone can easily navigate over to a Web site or landing page. Sony has hyperlinked Crackle.

Advertisers can receive data about how many people click through.



Marketers pay per text impression for RainedOut, with 10 cents a ballpark figure. During the winter months, perhaps 50,000 messages go out a month, but the messages can reach 10 times that amount during the spring and summer.

Sony has exclusivity as the advertiser through March 31, when RainedOut will begin phasing in a system where marketers can bid for rights.

The plan calls for three national advertisers to be selected at first. The highest per-text bidder will receive exposure on 50% of monthly messages sent out starting in April. The second-highest bidder will get a presence on 30%, followed by a third advertiser receiving exposure on 20%.

RainedOut will then phase in an online bidding system open to all comers.

The RainedOut system allows leagues and venues to send texts for free to their fans, employees and others that have opted-in. Information can include details about cancellations, volunteer requests and directions.

Once the online bidding system launches, leagues will get a portion of the ad dollars, helping them raise funds while RainedOut looks to build reach to attract advertisers.

RainedOut is principally a delivery system to mobile phones, although some people can get messages via email or on Facebook pages and other outlets.

RainedOut has yet to make money, but is counting on advertising to propel it. To date, it has been supported by revenues from other Omnilert ventures. Those include e2Campus, where schools and colleges pay to send out emergency and other information, and Omnilert allows businesses to do the same. Harvard and Boeing have used the services.

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