Friday, June 24, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: With Zoove, Everyone Can be a Star (Star)

Remember when short codes were, like, the coolest thing out there? The idea that you could ask a consumer to only dial 5 numbers to be connected to your brand call center ? Well, five digit short codes were certainly an improvement on dialing ten digits, but only by a certain degree. There’s still a significant degree of consumer friction inherent in “Text ENTER to 24437.”

Then there were the executional issues inherent in setting up short codes across carriers. There were service providers to make it easier, but it was never a doddle.

And then QR came along. While QR codes make things simpler than short codes in some ways, they actually add complexity in others. They need to be arranged cross carriers, require that the consumer download a QR reader, and also necessitate the consumer having a device with a camera. None of these prerequisites requires an effort analogous to completing a triathlon, but they do present friction, scale issues, compatibility issues, and drive up consumer and marketer complexity. Not good things.

Zoove is a start-up Hellbent on making mobile easier for BOTH consumers and brands by leveraging ** + numbers. The idea is to replace a broad range of mobile action types with memorable ** + vanity numbers that can drive a host of desirable actions at the consumer’s request. What kinds of actions? How about:

•Coupon Download: Dial ** + vanity number to get a text that provides a coupon url
•App Download: Dialing the ** + apps number activates the Zoove platform, which detects your device type and redirects your phone to the appropriate page for the download in the appropriate app store (Apple, Android, etc.)
•Video View: Dial ** + number and your phone automatically displays the desired video content, using a player appropriate for your device type.
•Website Visit: Dial ** + number and have a url appear on your device
•Purchase: Dial ** + number to visit a store or begin a transaction
•Sweeps Entry: Again, ** + number spawns the entry form
•Voting: Dial ** + number to have your vote recorded
Oh, you get it. By performing the most ubiquitous phone action – dialing a number -- the consumer can receive a host of resulting experiences. You can also communicate a ** + number in any medium. That's cool. After all, QR don’t work on da radio…

Here’s the flick:

So why care? Rather than my telling you, why not experience just one of the reasons first hand. Quick, without looking, try and remember the short code I mentioned in the first paragraph. If you had any difficulty doing so, the reason why a ** + vanity number might be preferable should be rather obvious.

This is all about making the desired consumer action easy to perform and remember. Brands can choose and register branded terms OR generic terms that denote the type of experience that will be spawned by the action. So, **PEPSI, or **CONTEST. But with the right vanity number, I cannot imagine that response rates wouldn’t explode.

To ensure that they do, Zoove manages the logistics across all major US carriers (ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint,) and ensures your content works on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Win Phone 7, HP/Palm OS, and Symbian.

The costs for ** numbers are quite reasonable, but it is a first come first served marketplace. Zoove makes its money on the ** number registrations and a cost per action on client programs. Based upon the insider info I saw, the prices are very reasonable.

Drop dead simple. Powerful. Performance enhancing. Hard to imagine a world where that combination isn’t a winner. Expect Zoove to do very very well in the months and years ahead.

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first!

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