Contact: Opt-In Mobile Messager

Chuck rieger found the inspiration for his patented method to send geographically specific content via cell phone after a casual drive through unfamiliar territory left him wanting to know more about the surrounding area. The Stanford Ph.D., with an expertise in artificial intelligence, combined the global positioning satellite capability of mobile phones, data connectivity, and other technologies to come up with a slightly more commercialized product billed as a "permission-based, geo-targeted mobile marketing solution."

Christening his brainchild LocalBuddy, Rieger founded Mobile-ComNetworks, which expects to offer an opt-in alert service for cell phones soon. The software firm, based in Bethesda, Md., is partnering with several wireless carriers to promote the advertising-on-demand content service, which will periodically send a user's cell phone targeted advertising based on their geographical location and personal profile.

After users complete their personal profiles and select the type of content they wish to receive, LocalBuddy begins sending promotions from participating advertisers. Consumers are tired of "receiving messages about things they don't want or need," explains Jeffrey Cohen, ceo of MobileComNetworks.

Cohen envisions a world where consumers are alerted about hockey or opera tickets that have been discounted for LocalBuddy members; business travelers who are notified en route to their destination that a preferred hotel is nearby; and vacationers who can receive a list of local restaurants with their specials of the day.

"Everyone will win as long as advertisers are willing to reward consumers for using the service, we keep the messages extremely targeted and relevant, and we ensure that opting-out is simple and final."

But, what will keep aggressive marketers from exploiting the new medium and overwhelming LocalBuddy users with spam-like messages? Cohen claims it won't happen. "If users start receiving too many messages, they'll opt-out; if the messages they receive aren't relevant or valuable to them, they'll opt-out. If they feel in any way, shape, or form uncomfortable with the service, they'll opt-out," he maintains. "The relationship will succeed or fail entirely on their terms."

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