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ChaCha: Mobile Search Service with a Human Touch

in Mobile Marketing

I took a trip to D.C. this past weekend and was looking for some ice cream in Dupont Circle. Instead of doing a mobile search on Google, I turned to ChaCha. Who’s ChaCha? No – it’s not my crazy aunt who lives in D.C. ChaCha is a human-powered mobile search service. Employing more than 55,000 human guides, ChaCha fields millions of questions each month. The service is built on the belief that phones are for conversations and that mobile search is no different.

The service is built on the belief that phones are for conversations and that mobile search is no different. People want questions answered and they turn to ChaCha to get a human answer — not one generated by a search engine. When a user texts a question, they get a text answer in response. Speed varies depending on the question. For instance, my ice cream question took a couple minutes. If I text, “What time is it in Tokyo?” the answer comes back a lot faster.

ChaCha has taken the same idea and extended it to advertisers. It allows advertisers to reach a targeted audience with their message. What’s so different about that? Not much. But ChaCha takes it a step further. Advertisers can start a conversation with users actively searching for information on their program, event or product.

How does it work? Let’s use entertainment as an example. One of the studios has a summer blockbuster coming out and wants to increase attendance on opening weekend. They can loop in with ChaCha and buy against the Celebrities, Movies or even Movie Showtimes category or, if they want to be even more targeted, against questions that mention their movie and talent only.

When a user texts in a question, their answer will be accompanied with a text advertisement from the advertiser.

User: “When does Big Summer Blockbuster open?”

ChaCha: “BSB opens on July 4. Want us to remind you so you don’t miss it? Reply with ‘YES BSB.'”

User: “YES BSB.”

In this case the users would get a reminder the day before the movie opens.

How about if the movie has a star with a big fan base? That might look something like this.

User: “When does Big Summer Blockbuster open?”

ChaCha: “BSB opens on July 4. Want to find out what Mr. Big Star eats for breakfast? Reply with ‘BRK.’”

User: “BRK.”

ChaCha: “Mr. Big Star eats oatmeal every morning. Want us to remind you so you don’t miss the movie premiere? Reply with ‘ YES BSB.’”

User: “YES BSB.”

ChaCha can also drive engagement with your brand around a certain initiative. For example, say retail brand has a large back to school campaign. They can buy the Style & Beauty or Shopping categories and target ads to users to ask questions that fall into those buckets. From there, they can offer a discount promo code that a user can use online or in store. They did this for Lids.com and generated over 1,000 online orders — a 200 percent return on ad spend.

As we become more and more dependent on our mobile devices to connect us with the world, advertisers will need effective ways to move the conversation there. Mobile advertising solutions need to deliver targeted and qualified engagement and ChaCha has come up with a pretty cool way to do it.