ChaCha Answers 150 Million Questions in Just 18 Months

When it comes to SMS services with the most traffic, ChaCha ranks up with big guns – American Idol, Twitter, and Facebook, according to the newly released Q1 Mobile Messaging Report from The Nielsen Company. And they’re a main competitior to Google’s SMS search offering.

Haven’t heard of ChaCha? They’re a free mobile answers service. Ask a question and get your answer in real time, using a basic mobile phone. How it works: users call 1-800-2ChaCha or text questions to ChaCha (242242) on mobile phones, and they get answers within minutes. ChaCha’s expert “Guides” search and answer these questions online in real time. Questions range from factual (the size of Athen’s Georgia) to immature (Do you want to touch my butt?), and are published on ChaCha’s homepage in real time, where they can be answered. Guides are paid on a per-transaction basis, making about $3 to $9 per hour. And they’re paying people 4 cents per transcription of a recording question to a text question.

“Hitting the 150 million answer mark changes the search dynamic,” said ChaCha CEO Scott A. Jones to MarketWatch. “Our explosive progress reflects the way today’s very mobile consumers want to search and retrieve information — ChaCha is a huge win for both our customers and our advertisers.”

ChaCha isn’t all about free love and free answers. They offer paid versions for marketing campaigns. ChaCha’s sell is they drive engagement with your brand around a certain initiative. For example, if a retail brand has a large back to school initiative, they can buy the Style & Beauty or Shopping category and target ads to users who ask questions that fall into those buckets. Their current and previous advertisers include big brands like Best Buy, Coca Cola, palm, and McDonalds, not to mention president Obama during his 2008 campaign.

“The audience for ChaCha is seeking and finding that human connection in the machine. It is something much more than search,” wrote Steve Smith of MediaPost Mobile Insider.