For most of recorded history, advertising has been a one-way experience: A message or image is put in a public place, physical or virtual, and people either see it or don't see it. Most people see it but do nothing, some react but still do nothing and others actually are moved to buy the product.
But things are changing, and quickly. TouchCommerce, which builds IT connections between advertisers and potential customers, is one of the more progressive companies moving that needle forward. On May 20, it announced its newest solution, TouchMedia, which enables large advertisers to transform their media messages into on-demand interactive conversations using personalized engagement tools.
TouchMedia provides advertisers with a way to integrate live chat and personalized self-service options into their non-online advertising campaigns. Using Short Message Service (SMS), Quick Response (QR) Codes and audio identification mobile apps, TouchMedia allows shoppers to instantly interact with brands on any media property outside the brand's controlled environment.
At the start, TouchMedia will focus on increasing engagement and sales for brands through traditional advertising platforms, such as television, radio, print publications, billboards, classified ads and so on. TouchMedia will address the online advertising segment at a later date, Chief Marketing Officer George Skaff told eWEEK.
For example, when a potential buyer sees an ad in a print publication or a billboard for a product of interest, he or she can scan the QR Code in the ad and, if the ad is TouchMedia-enabled, get an immediate chat window on his or her device to learn more about the product.
QR Codes are machine-readable and consist of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.
It's all about immediate reaction from the brand—where, when and with whatever media the potential buyer wants to use.
"Statistics have shown than 85 percent of smartphone users have their devices nearby while watching a TV program," Skaff said. "If you're watching TV, and you see a product that interests you, and it has a 'text this number for more information' note on the ad, you can get your smartphone or tablet, text the number and immediately get a live chat session about that product itself."
Agoura Hills, Calif.-based TouchMedia enables a consumer to:
--SMS a keyword to a short code or phone number, and receive back a link that opens a live chat session or other personalized customer engagement-enabled Web page;
--Scan a QR Code on a print ad and be redirected to a live chat session or other personalized customer engagement-enabled Web page; and
--Use an audio identification app (such as Apple's Shazam) on a television or radio ad and be redirected to a live chat session or other personalized customer engagement-enabled page.
On the back end, the TouchCommerce RightTouch platform then uses product information, prior browsing behavior (when available) and the company's patented Web-based customer interface to present personalized content, either through the live chat session or an automated engagement tool, such as a mobile guide, Skaff said.
If routed to a live expert, this information is sent to the agent at the start of the chat session. In addition to answering questions, the chat agent can provide the shopper with rich content, such as videos, coupons, guides and surveys, as well as details about their local retail location and more.
TouchMedia is now available. For more information, go here or text "CHAT" to 818-237-4977 for more information.