Introducing The “Mobile Phone Universal Remote”

In a move that could dramatically influence the future of mobile marketing opportunities, a little known private company called Akoo International has developed a network of digital television screens that can both send and receive messages from cell phones. According to Akoo’s Vice President of...

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akoo-m-venue.jpgIn a move that could dramatically influence the future of mobile marketing opportunities, a little known private company called Akoo International has developed a network of digital television screens that can both send and receive messages from cell phones.

According to Akoo’s Vice President of marketing, Andy Stankiewicz, the company is hoping to mold mobile devices into universal remote controls that can “select on-demand content from big-screen TVs in airports, bars, restaurants, etc.”

Akoo’s network called m-Venue enables cell phone users to send a text-message request for a video clip, sports and music videos, or just about any other conceivable video content. It is then delivered to their phone or played on a nearby Akoo television screen. Overall, the service would act much like a mobile phone-based on-demand cable television service or a “high-tech jukebox.”

How the mobile marketing industry would grow in response to this technology is apparent. In return for a text messaged video request, companies can deliver digital coupons or other relevant promotions to the cell phone that made the request. “For instance,” says Stankiewicz “a customer at a John Barleycorn restaurant in Chicago, part of the m-Venue network, might select a text message code displayed on a big television screen above the bar —one that would deliver Gwen Stefani’s new music video. The customer would then receive a text message to the effect of, ‘Thanks! Gwen Stefani will play shortly. Show this text to your server and get any appetizer for $1.’”

Akoo is banking on the absorbed belief that ads on cell phones and digital signs that can be activated by consumers are on the frontlines of the rapidly expanding business of mobile marketing.

According to the New York Times, The Carmel Group – a research firm in California – predicts that revenue in the US from digital signs will grow to $2.6 billion by the end of 2010. That’s up from $1.5 billion in 2007.

To date, only a small number of companies utilize digital signs for one-way communication (e.g., sending promotional coupons to cell phones). Akoo, however, claims its technology is different because it allows consumers to control content on digital advertising screens. “This is the only digital out-of-home billboard network that’s fully interactive with mobile phones,” said Stankiewicz.

Founded in 2001, Akoo has already worked in a limited capacity with McDonalds. At one location in Chicago, Akoo claims that their two week trial with the digital screens at McDonalds helped increase business by nearly twenty percent.

As one might logically expect, advertisers have been attracted to Akoo’s network almost exclusively by its potential customers – the young and difficult to reach variety. Akoo is also particularly attractive to marketers given its likely proximity to the cash register, where nearly three quarters of purchase decisions are reportedly made.

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3 comments

  1. Mobile Phone as a Universal Remote? · EnMobile

    […] Work Cited: Universal Remote […]

  2. Mark Smithivas

    Another cutting-edge company in this very same space is LocaModa. They are rolling out interactive digital signage applications that will let you play games using your mobile as the controller.

  3. Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS

    Michael,

    On your Gwen Stefani example, wouldn’t it be interesting to actually charge the user, say something trivial like a quarter, to view the music video (PSMS). I am quite used to being in bars where it costs one dollar to play a tune. With this delivery method, you can do it for a quarter, and then also use it as advertising, thus covering your hard costs of sending the SMS…

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