October 21, 2010, 10:35 AM

Brits can sign up for personalized, location-based text message promotions

A U.K. carrier and a U.S. marketing firm send the mobile technology across the pond.

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22 million Brits can now receive personalized, location-based text messages as a result of a partnership between a U.K.-based wireless carrier and a California mobile marketing firm.

U.K. carrier O2, which provides mobile phone service to 22 million subscribers, is using Placecast’s location-based mobile marketing technology to enable subscribers to sign up for special coupons and promotions via SMS (plain text) messages and MMS (multimedia and text) messages. The first merchants onboard in the U.K. are Starbucks and L’Oréal.

A consumer can sign up by sending a text message to a special number operated by O2 or through O2’s web site. He has to indicate his age, gender and interests, such as soccer, travel or film. Merchants provide Placecast with the promotional texts and the geographic locations they wish covered by the marketing program. When a consumer with matching interests is within those boundaries, Placecast sends a text.

Placecast uses geo-fencing technology to pinpoint a consumer’s location, triangulating the individual’s phone signal using multiple nearby cell towers. O2 and Placecast do not share any demographic or location information with third parties, the companies say.

“The growth of location-based services will create a golden age for proximity marketing,” says Shaun Gregory, managing director of O2 Media, O2’s marketing arm. “It fuels a growing expectation among consumers for personalized advertising via their mobile phones that is directly relevant to their passions. The market potential here is huge.”

Hal Kimber, head of customer relationship management for cosmetics brand L’Oréal, agrees.

“The opportunity to deliver timely, relevant communications to L’Oréal Paris’ various target audiences through the platform is very exciting for us and the information we gain will be invaluable for our CRM initiatives going forward,” Kimber says, referring to customer relationship management programs. “In the future, mobile will undoubtedly become one of, if not the, key channels for developing consumer relationships.”

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