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Touchpoint enables brands to reach students nearby campus bookstores via mobile

General Motors and The New York Times are among the initial advertisers on a new mobile network enabling brands to reach college students via their mobile devices when they are close to a campus bookstore.

Touchpoint has deployed its mobile marketing technology to over 130 college campuses and in up to 600 campus bookstores. The program has been in the pilot phase over the past few months and is now being made available to additional marketers.

“You are getting an advertisement into their phone which is something that they walk around with almost 24 hours a day,” said Barry Van Scoten, chairman and CEO of Touchpoint Technologies, New York.

“The engagement level of college students is so much higher than any other demographics on mobile,” he said. “To be able to put your brand or a special or a deal on their phone is very powerful.”

Opt-in rate grows
The college bookstore strategy gives brands an opportunity to connect with college students and to start building brand loyalty among this audience. Consumer spending among college students exceeds $300 billion each year,

Approximately 57 percent of college students own a smartphone, according to Touchpoint.

General Motors is using the Touchpoint college bookstore network to reach students with a branded initiative to make an impression on students when they may be thinking about buying their first car.

The Florida department of tourism is using the network to encourage students to visit Florida over their spring break.

Other advertisers include Living Fuel, The Economist and The New York Times.

Touchpoint expects to soon add movie trailers and offers from local businesses that students frequent such as pizza restaurants.

In the five month pilot phase, Touchpoint increased its opt-in rate from 9 percent to 14 percent.

Touchpoint’s proprietary technology allows it to direct ads to mobile devices within a 300-foot radius of a host device inside the campus bookstores and works similar to peer-to-peer connections. The technology connects with mobile devices using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and is activated once a mobile device walks into specific area around the store.

When a device comes within range of the broadcast zone, the device is sent a message asking users if they would like to opt-in to receive messages. The technology detects all smartphones, feature phones, iPads and laptops that are on.

When users accept a message, the content is transferred to their mobile device so they can store it and act upon it when they want.

Once users opt in to receive offers, they may receive offers every couple of days or when relevant new ads become available.

No data fees
Touchpoint will continue to build a network of locations over the coming months, including local businesses throughout New York City, large retailers and other locations.

The company has contracts with 6,000 locations throughout New York City such as checking cashing stores, deli’s and other locations.

The technology was also recently deployed in New York City’s Time Square in ATMs, giving marketers access to the large number of pedestrians who walk through Times Square every day.

Users do not need to download an app to receive and redeem offers. They also do not incur any data fees because the offers are not being delivered over a mobile network.

“Our box is communicating directly with that phone,” Mr. Van Scoten said. “It is not communicating via Sprint or Verizon.

“We are handshaking that device as it comes into our zone,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York