MobileWord chases agency business

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Mobileword Communications has inked a deal with the American Association of Advertising Agencies to tap the potentially lucrative world of advertising.

The New Rochelle, N.Y., company will provide its TalkText service, which transcribes verbal information into text and then sends documents over the Internet, at a 5% discount to Four A's members.

FIRST IN AFFINITY PROGRAM

MobileWord is the first Internet service to become a member of the Four A's affinity program, through which the association offers discounted business services to its members. Some other companies in the program include AT&T Corp., Hertz Corp., United Parcel Service of America and Express Group, which provides fulfillment and distribution. Discounts vary by company.

Some agencies already using MobileWord's service are Y&R Advertising, TBWA Chiat/Day and Lowe & Partners/SMS. The agencies use TalkText for client and project reports, and market research reports ranging from summaries to verbatim focus group sessions.

The target for TalkText and other MobileWord services is what the company calls the "out of nest" worker who is traveling or working from home without traditional office support. Turnaround time for delivery over the Internet is within 24 hours.

"When we started offering services, a number of advertising agencies found us," said Bob Cox, CEO of MobileWord. Benoit, Twomey & Partners, New York, handles its print and Web ads.

"The service is particularly well-suited to advertising individuals for transcription, conference reports and topline reports. The fact is that many advertising executives travel a lot," Mr. Cox said.

In fact, MobileWord Marketing Director Will Suarez first encountered the service when he worked for Lowe.

MAKING REPORTS EASY

"When I was an [account exec], we always had to produce a call report within 24 hours," Mr. Suarez said. "For me to walk out of a creative presentation and call in and be ready with a report the next day, especially with less effort on my part, was great."

Wendy Brown, Four A's senior VP-benefits, said, "What we found intriguing was that a busy executive on the road could dictate by phone and get the transcript back in a high-tech way--and agencies are really plugged into the latest technology and gadgets."

MobileWord users can phone in their information, including on mobile phones, or use digital online voice services, such as RealAudio.

Although most users currently call in dictation via MobileWord's toll-free number, the company is working to move more users to online or digitized voice.

MobileWord is working with BCB Technology Group on a handheld dictation device, which takes up to six hours of dictation that can be copied onto a PC and sent to transcribers, Mr. Cox said.

DOCUMENTS SECURED

TalkText users can set up either a corporate or personal account. Corporate users, such as advertising agencies, must spend at least $25 per month and pay $3.50 per page of typed text; personal accounts have no minimum and cost $3.75 per page. Four A's members get a discount.

For users who are concerned about security, MobileWord has put in place secure socket layer technology used by credit card companies.

"We treat those documents the same as money, with the same level of security as credit cards," Mr. Cox said.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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