SkyGo studies responses to wireless ads

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Skygo is out to disprove the naysayers who believe consumers won't respond to wireless advertising because, among other things, the devices have tiny screens and the ads hog precious airtime, passing along extra costs to consumers.

A recently concluded wireless market study conducted by SkyGo, Redwood City, Calif., revealed that 64% of the 1,025 consumers who participated opened ads pushed to their handsets. Interest in acting on wireless offers after viewing them reached 15%, while 3% of all participants who responded to ads acted on them by visiting a store or Web site or making a purchase.

The study included ad delivery through vehicles such as trivia contests, promotions and coupons, all of which produced better results than banner ads. A KFC coupon offer asking the question "How many chicken sandwiches sold last year?" posted a 52% click-through rate.

SkyGo used PocketNet service from AT&T Wireless and equipped participants with Ericsson R280 LX cellular phones. It also teamed up with more than 50 national and local advertisers which paid undisclosed sums to advertise during the four-month trial in Boulder, Colo. SkyGo subsidized a $20 minimum plan of 120 minutes to consumers; the PocketNet data service connecting participants to the Internet was free.

"We first thought this medium was suitable for direct marketing, but we found that there is a strong branding piece to the trial," said Daren Tsui, SkyGo's co-founder and CEO. While advertisers such as Subway, KFC, CompUSA and Kinko's relied on promotions, Procter & Gamble Co. used the trial to drive brand awareness for Febreze, Pringle's and Tide. SkyGo's market test found a 58% aided ad recall. Mr. Tsui said 35% of trial participants who recalled seeing an ad thought it reflected positively on the product or company.

The SkyGo trial targeted college students, tech-savvy mobile professionals and general U.S. cellular consumers. Participants completed online registrations and agreed to receive a minimum of three ads per day and answer five online questionnaires during the course of the trial. They also chose the time of day they wanted to receive ads.

As wireless carriers launch "all-you-can-eat" rate plans, consumers are likely to see more trials and services like SkyGo's.

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