WHAT IS IT: Can postcards be a new medium for advertising? In a marriage between old and new media, Canadian startup Hippopost offers a digital service that lets people create custom postcards using photos stored on their cellphones or desktops. Hippopost mails the postcard free of charge, but users are required to choose a brand sponsor whose logo will appear on the card.
HOW IT WORKS: Hippopost is hoping advertisers will find the sponsorship opportunities compelling, the pitch being that people won't readily throw away postcards that capture priceless moments from friends or family. Hippopost has designed its service to serve multiple brand impressions: when the sender chooses an advertiser, when a confirmation appears to let users know their postcard has been sent and when the recipient gets the postcard. Users can access the service from the company's website or Facebook and Blackberry apps, with other platforms such as iPhone coming soon. Users on average send three postcards; 42% of those who get Hippopost postcards end up sending their own Hippopost greetings, Mr. Byrne said.
WHO'S BEHIND IT: Mr. Byrne and Bob Millar, formerly of Research in Motion, maker of theBlackBerry, are founders of the company, which has operated in beta for a year now.
WHO'S USING IT: 71% of Hippopost users reside stateside; 18% are Canadians, and the rest are scattered around the world. Though the company declined to disclose how many people use its service, 65,000 downloads of Hippopost's BlackBerry app occurred within two weeks of its launch. Mr. Byrne said the company is sending more than 25,000 postcards per week. Mitsubishi, Nestle and Expedia are current sponsors. Hippopost white-labels its service to Mitsubishi and Coke, which use it as part of their loyalty programs.