StarStar codes are basically a vanity phone number that begin with “**” (hence the name StarStar code), that are essentially a branded phone number, toll free number, a URL and a Short Code all rolled into one. They’re free for consumers using any cell phone on any carrier, and provide a means for brands to incorporate unique mobile campaigns through a self-serve marketing and media platform.
Brands can leverage StarStar codes much like they would Short Codes to deliver on-demand content in the form of SMS, MMS, Web and even voice. It provides the same opt-in concept as short codes with unlimited response options. A few standout advantages I can see over Short Codes are not being limited to 5 characters and a provisioning time of only 10 days, which trumps that of Short Codes in many cases. In addition, StarStar codes provide the same opt-in “pull” concept as Short Codes, but without the need to text a keyword into the Short Code.
A recent example of StarStar Codes in action is from I Heart Radio, which enlisted Zoove to promote their new iphone app. Advertisements encouraged users to simply dial “**IHR” from their iPhone, which immediately returns an iTunes download link to download the new application. There’s definitely huge potential here.
Verizon Wireless announced yesterday that they’ve chosen Zoove Mobile to manage the leasing of certain StarStar dial codes and campaign management for those dial codes. Under the terms of the deal, Verizon Wireless will license the Zoove Service Platform and participate in the StarStar Mobile Dial Code or “MDC” Registry for nationwide dial code registration and management, while using the technology to delivery interactive mobile marketing campaigns. A partnership like this gives traction to Zoove, and will undoubtedly help the startup further its cause.
This is an interesting concept as it’s the first time a new domain space has been added for the mobile phone. Though it will hardly replace Short Codes anytime soon, I definitely see brands adopting the concept in addition to Short Codes in the short-term. We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on this one.