Bluetooth Ads Discover Listeners

Advertisers can now reach through cell phones to offer specialized content. (

A UK advertising firm says it has carried out the biggest Bluetooth advertising campaign to date, reaching 15,000 Londoners directly via their cell phones.

The campaign, carried out to promote the launch of Coldplays album "X&Y", is just one of several that are being pioneered in and on billboards, movie theaters, airports and train stations around the United States and Europe.

The upshot: Advertising is coming to a cell phone near you.

The new technique uses Bluetooth, the short-range wireless technology now found in all but low-end handsets. Bluetooth is mainly used to connect peripherals such as wireless headsets to a cell phone handset or PC.

But, as users have found in areas with a high concentration of Bluetooth users, the technology can be used to send all kinds of content to anyone nearby.

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Filter UK, the mobile marketing agency behind the Coldplay campaign, embedded its Bluetooth ad servers in giant television screens in several central London train stations.

The screens promoted the album and also urged users to switch their Bluetooth handsets to "discoverable" mode, so that they could receive more content.

Commuters with discoverable Bluetooth handsets passing within 100 meters of the billboards were sent a message asking if theyd like to receive the Coldplay content, which included video interviews, music clips and still images.

The billboards detected 87,000 unique discoverable handsets, of which 13,000 opted to receive the material, a response rate of about 15 percent—very high by advertising industry standards.

The content on offer changed regularly, with new clips added at least once a day, Filter said. "The key advantage of this for the consumer is that its delivered for free, bypassing the mobile operators, and it should be content relevant to them and the area theyre located in," said Fred Durman, Filters commercial partner.

Europe, and later the United States, will soon be seeing the kinds of mobile promotions that are increasingly frequent in wireless-saturated Asian countries such as Korea, Durman said.

For marketers, its an invaluable opportunity to get into consumers personal space—something that also makes advertisers wary of offending potential customers.

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