CBS Teams with Loopt on Geo-based Mobile Ads

Consumers with GPS enabled devices will receive ads based on location. 

Stepping into the brave new world of geo-location mobile advertising, CBS said Feb. 6 it is teaming with social networking mapping and communications service Loopt to offer cell phone ads based on a user's location.

Deploying Loopt's GPS technology, CBS hopes to convince advertisers to target mobile consumers, wherever they may be, with local ads. The location-based ads will not be sent via SMS to consumers' GPS mobile devices, but instead appear on mobile Web sites that consumers can access from their cell phones.

Fans at a sporting event, for instance, could go to CBS Sports Mobile, one of the highest-traffic ad-supported mobile Web sites in the United States, to check scores of other games. Based on the user's location, the site would serve local ads from nearby restaurants and bars along with updated game results.

"If you're hungry and we take into account your location and time of day to display an ad for a restaurant offering free appetizers during happy hour, we've really blurred the line between advertising and content," Loopt CEO and co-founder Sam Altman said in a statement.

The only carriers that currently have a deal with Loopt are Sprint Nextel and Boost Mobile, although the Silicon Valley startup is negotiating with other carriers.

"Location-based advertising is the sweet spot in mobile marketing," Cyriac Roeding, executive vice president of CBS Mobile, said in a statement. "We are thrilled for CBS to be the first media company in the country to help our clients realize highly relevant, yet non-intrusive mobile ads using location-based technology."

The geo-location advertising scheme also raises privacy questions, but both CBS and Loopt insist the service will require users to opt in. All ads, they said, are served anonymously and location history is not stored.

"There is definitely a need for mobile, time-based services," Matt Booth, senior vice president and program director at the Kelsey Group, told eWEEK. "Building a product around geo-location services is a way for mobile advertising to take off."

Ads will be available on CBS Sports Mobile and CBS Mobile News Web sites, on Loopt properties and its partners' Web sites.

"Together with CBS, we are leveraging the growth of the mobile Web and the power of location information to transform mobile advertising into a more integrated and useful service," Altman said.