Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The In-call of the Wild

Here are some companies you’re going to be hearing more about…and hearing from more frequently in the future:


IDT’s Voodoo Vox

These companies are behind what Fortune Magazine is calling "the attack of the ad-sponsored phone call, as various Internet telephony companies seek to sell seconds of airtime before connecting your calls."
I’m not sure I’m ready for this.

(dial tone…tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap-tap…

“Thanks for using this phone company. While we’re taking a few seconds to connect your call, have you thought about your liver lately? Take Liverite, right after you finish this call.”

And as these phone companies become more savvy about who we are, where we are, and details about our lives, those in-call advertisements could become more personalized…


“Your call will be completed in just a moment, but first, this reminder from AARP: your dues are due tomorrow, and don’t forget to recharge your Scooter chair tonight right after the computer bingo tournament.”

I am not making this up.
Well, parts of it.
Fortune reports "privately held Internet phone company Jangl started testing "in-call" advertising last year," and they’ve got some possible partners ready to bend your ear, like wireless game and ringtone purveyors.

Another internet-based communications company, Jajah, will have in-call ads later this year. In return for opting-in for the service and listening to a 15-second clip, you'll earn credits offsetting your phone bill.


“Welcome to another digital communication experience from Jajah and Viagra, helping keep staying in touch as pleasurable as possible.”

I guess these ads are the telecom’s answer to the Do Not Call lists. Here’s what I predict: you will soon be able to purchase a premium service that not only blocks unwanted telemarketers from disturbing you, you will be guaranteed a crystal-clear, un-interrupted dial tone and dialing sequence. Because sometimes your brain just needs to veg while the call is being placed.

Fortune says that because in-call marketing is so new, companies such as VoodooVox are producing ad messages for their customers, and there appears to be growth in the business. (VoodooVox had revenue of about $4 million in 2007, and expects revenue to increase at least ten-fold this year. )


“Hi, this is J. Scott Hamilton, CEO of Voodoo Box, the people who’ve demon-possessed your cell phone dial tone. Don’t bother hitting the end key, we’re now in control of your instrument. We control the horizontal, we control the vertical. Need a colon cleansing? We can control that too. Now, here’s your call.”

Here’s the bottom line these digital dorks should not forget: If these in-call ads become too obtrusive, they’re going to backfire on both the service providers and the customers for whom they’re pimping.

Eventually, folks will figure out a way around the clutter to make their calls. If we can hack an Apple iPhone, we can short circuit in-call advertising.

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