I had a briefing with Rick Szatkowski of a company called NeoMedia, which has a range of product offerings. What we talked about, however, was a pretty compelling mobile ad infrastructure called "PaperClick," which links the wireless and physical worlds together.
There are lots of marketers experimenting with SMS short codes, but this technology is broader, more flexible and has more interesting applications. While SMS campaigns have interoperability limitations across U.S. carriers, PaperClick uses the mobile Web, eliminating cross-carrier barriers.
Through keywords or bar code entry via a camera phone, the company's technology enables consumers with wireless devices to access targeted promotions, offers and coupons from anywhere—a cereal box, a TV commercial, a poster a billboard, a magazine, etc.
Users are encouraged to set up an online profile that enables marketers to run different promotions for different market segments and profiles. So a message on a billboard or a cereal box might yield one promotion for you and a separate one for me based on our differing profiles.
It also extends the life of otherwise "static" traditional media; the promotions can change "on the back end" even as the billboard creative remains the same over a period of weeks or even months.
There are more narrow versions of this happening in Japan now. And this type of promotion-based wireless advertising model starts to look more and more viable and less and less like something that's "cool" but still far off.
We'll cover this company and its offerings more in future writing.