What it is: A text-messaging service that allows college administrators, school clubs -- and marketers -- to reach students and faculty through their phones. Mobile Campus has 30,000 subscribers, and its goal is to reach a half million students at 100 schools within a year.
The ads: Mobile Campus sends a maximum of two unique discount offers daily, which are redeemable by showing the text messages to a clerk.
The marketers: Dell, Domino's and numerous local restaurants, electronics, clothing and other businesses use it. Mobile Campus said a Dell promotion offering text-message discounts to 18,000 drove 5,000 students to the Dell website, a response rate of nearly 30%.
The financials: Mobile Campus charges 19 cents to 50 cents per message sent, depending on the number of schools involved in the promotion. CEO George Tingo said he'll charge higher rates for more specific targeting. Under a revenue-sharing model, Mobile Campus pays the school $1 per student signed up; after that, 5% of gross revenue.
The downside: At least one student newspaper has editorialized against Mobile Campus, characterizing the service as a commercial invasion of academia. Mr. Tingo said the paper was concerned about the erosion of its local advertising revenue and he now advertises in the paper. "We worked it out," he said.
The results: Freddie Wehbe, owner of six Domino's in Gainesville, Fla., said very aggressive promotions, particularly when students return to school from a break at home and their bank account are flush, get a 20% to 25% redemption rate, while less aggressive ones, those available elsewhere, run at 7% to 9% redemption. What ad tactic works best? Mr. Tingo said: "free, free, free."