“Ring-Back Tones” Hit The US, Will It Survive?

“Ring-Back Tones” have been around for a long time, but a US-based company dubbed Ring Plus, Inc. claims to be the first to bring the technology to the US.  Beyond that, the company’s CEO, Karl Seelig, claims to be the inventor of the overall Ring-Back Tone technology with several US-based patents to boot.  

We’ve covered Ring-Back tones before, but its usually been associated with overseas companies who have been using the technology for years now.  Turkcell, the second largest mobile operator in Europe, has used Ring-Back tones under their “Tone & Win” program for quite some time with relatively large success.  While it’s a bit confusing as to who truly created the underlying technology, the idea remains unique.  But, will the idea that’s proven successful in Europe do just as good in the US market?  Doubtful.  

Ring Plus was at ad:tech San Francisco recently to debut its technology and to prove it’s effectiveness in the mobile marketing industry.  Ring-Back Tones, or RBT ads, from RingPlus replace the “ring” normally heard by a caller with granular targeted audio advertisements.  The company claims it works by “combining the best parts of all other mediums with subscriber-based data profiling and targeting, location-based marketing, high interactivity, real-time consumer engagement functionality, cross-platform campaign integration, incredible metrics, high conversion capability, and total cost control—all while protecting consumer privacy.  

While that all may be true, it comes down to the willingness of the end-consumer to put up with advertisements when calling.  To me, I think this falls under the category of “works well overseas, but not ready for the US market just yet.”  It seems Ring Plus‘ approach is almost identical to Turkcell’s “Tone & Win” program except that it’s offered as a separate mobile marketing platform instead of packaged with a carrier.  

I could be way off base with my assumptions, but Ring-Back Tones seem to lack the targeting and tracking capabilities that are essential with any mobile marketing campaign.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.