Maximizing 'Wasted' Seconds While Connecting a Call

Media Morph: In-Call Media Networks

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: In-Call Media Networks

VoodooVox website
WHAT IT IS: Know those seconds of dead time waiting for a call to be connected? A new network wants to use those quiet moments to whisper short, targeted ads directly into the consumer's ear. Some say services like this could lead a revolution for free, ad-supported telephone service.

WHO'S OFFERING IT: VoodooVox is one. Funded by Walt Disney Co.'s Steamboat Ventures, Apax Partners and Softbank Capital, the service runs ads during hold time and lets users request additional info.

HOW IT WORKS: Wells Fargo used VoodooVox to advertise a service that wires money to Mexico when someone uses a phone card to call Mexico. If a call is made from New York, the service might suggest a restaurant there. It's akin to how DoubleClick might use data to target and serve online ads, said CEO J. Scott Hamilton. Other marketers trying out the system include Bank of America and Sony Music.

WHO'S USING IT: Some 400 radio stations nationwide use VoodooVox to place ads on the line while callers wait to request songs or make comments. You might also hear it if you use the international calling-card provider IDT, internet telephone companies such as Jajah and Jangl, or conference-call providers such as FreeConference.

RESPONSE RATE: So how many callers actually press "1" to get more info? VoodooVox says 12% and at times as many as 40%.

THE SKEPTICISM: OK, so initial response rates are high. But as if waiting on hold couldn't be more annoying, someone's going to inject that time with ads? Honestly, isn't this worse than hold music? Maybe, but maybe not, Mr. Hamilton said. He's counting on the potential benefits to outweigh those concerns. "We strongly believe that most telephony services that consumers currently pay for can be delivered profitably and for less with advertising support."
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