Mobile Marketing Pact Could Generate More Ads

Advertisements could start popping up on your mobile phone soon, if a deal between Acuity Mobile and Acxiom, expected to be announced on Monday, takes off.

Acuity offers technology that collects data about mobile users such as location, time of day and user interests, and then sends relevant marketing information to their phones. Acxiom offers an array of customer and information management services, tapping into a collection of U.S. consumer data that contains information about 176 million people. Last week, it agreed to a US$3 billion buyout from two private equity firms.

Through the agreement, Acuity can now take data Acxiom collects and combine that with its service, making a joint mobile marketing offering to Acxiom customers. Acxiom customers include credit card, telecom, financial, car, publishing and mortgage companies.

The agreement opens the door for Acuity to Acxiom's customer base and improves the offering because Acuity can access more relevant data about the mobile users it sends ads to.

Acxiom customers that decide to use Acuity's service would send messages to mobile users. In order to receive the messages, mobile phone users must have a small Java application on their phones and they must opt in to receive the advertisements.

Once they have the application, multimedia advertising content that can include audio and images and may soon contain video elements will pop up on users' screens, often based on a user's location.

As an example, a casino in Las Vegas could be an ideal customer for a mobile marketing campaign, said Gregg Smith, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Acuity. Some casino visitors use a card issued by the casino that works like cash in slot machines and can be used to make purchases at the casino. Users typically must sign up to get such cards, and when they do, they could opt to receive special offers from the casino on their mobile phones.

"Thousands" of the Acuity Java applications have been downloaded, Smith said. Mapping data company Navteq recently signed up to use Acuity to deliver advertisements to customers of its mobile traffic information service.

Mobile advertising has become a hot topic recently, particularly among Web search giants like Google and Yahoo. However, those companies are typically focused on delivering advertisements to mobile users as they search the Internet. Acuity's offer is different in that its mobile application triggers advertisements to pop up on a phone anytime.

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