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Firm uses cell tower data to send ads

Althea Chang
Big Data Download
Firm uses cell tower data to send ads

Groupons and other daily deals flood email inboxes, but instead of sending a deluge of unwanted offers, companies are now using location data to tailor coupons, deals and information to cell phone users.

Using cell phone towers from the four major carriers, AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), Sprint (S) and T-Mobile (TMUS), companies can send offers and information via text message to users who call ** and a specific brand name or code and then listen to a recorded message, according to Joe Gillespie, CEO of Zoove, a company that sells the service.

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With each call, user information, location data, a user's cell phone carrier and the type of phone the user is calling from is recorded, Gillespie said.

"The way that works from a location perspective is that we've harvested all the tower and cell IDs in the United States in partnership with the carriers, and what that allows us to do is to say if you're going to call Dunkin Donuts in Boston, we could offer a different...experience than if you dialed it in New York," Gillespie explained.

For instance, attendees at the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee who called **Ford, received tailored information on the 2014 Ford (F) Fiesta, which the automaker was promoting at the festival through Zoove.

Zoove did not disclose the number of calls received as a result of Ford’s promotion at Bonnaroo.

Zoove works on the assumption that consumers would rather call the service than text it.

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The company’s technology can also be used to target consumers at specific stores by isolating individual cell phone towers, and Zoove is in talks with a few fast food chains to offer mobile deals and information, Gillespie said.

Since it's up to the caller to initiate an exchange with a company, privacy issues aren't much of a concern, according to Zoove.

"We don't send anything to the consumer unless they opt in," Gillespie said. "They're picking up the phone and dialing your brand. We don't push anything unless a customer decides they've seen an offer in the wild and say 'I want that. I like that,'" according to Gillespie.

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