i3 Mobile Customer Acquisiton Account Worth $10 Million

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Wireless-services provider i3 Mobile awarded Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftWorldwide, New York, a $10 million customer-acquisition assignment for its Pronto mobile information service.

Draft, which won the account after a review of undisclosed agencies, will handle direct-response TV, direct mail and retail marketing for Pronto, a subscription-based service that delivers information on demand over any telephone.

Described as a "flat menu voice-recognition" system, Pronto allows subscribers to use all phones to call and find succinct bits of information on the Internet. For simple queries, such as the time a movie is playing in a specific theater, it responds with a canned audio reply. But for more complicated queries, it switches the caller to a human operator who does high-speed Internet searches for the desired information. The company describes it as being like a "digital concierge."

Most frequent requests
The new service was recently tested in Hartford, Conn., and, according to a company spokeswoman, three of the most frequent incoming requests were for sports scores, stock quotes and local restaurant information.

"They were very specific, like, 'Where is a good Japanese restaurant that's open past 10 p.m.?' or 'What's the best steak restaurant in town and how do I get there?'" the spokeswoman said.

"Pronto is basically access to information from anywhere," she said. "The company has just signed a distribution deal with The Wall Street Journal, so a subscriber who hears about a WSJ article early in the morning -- but isn't near a newspaper -- can dial up on his phone and ask about the morning's Wall Street Journal content."

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