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Procter & Gamble (P&G)

Ring! Ring! There's a super deal on the shelf right in front of you


By Noel Young, Correspondent

December 11, 2011 | 3 min read

You're walking through the supermarket and suddenly your smartphone buzzes- with a message about a special deal on the product on the shelf in front of you; you walk into a concert and the phone goes off again - this time with a message about the band .

Phone tips while you shop?

Reporting on this marketing miracle, AdWeek says, "You can pack all kinds of marketing goodness into a smartphone app, but no app is worth the space unless consumers remember to actually, you know, open it."

But with a new programme , Sonic Notify, from New York digital agency Densebrain, you don't HAVE to open it.

Using technology originally developed for a bus-tracking app , Sonic Notify uses audio code to deliver messages, ads, and more to smartphones.

Jonathan Glanz, Densebrain's founder , told Adweek the idea emerged during a meeting with Procter and Gamble. Procter wanted to know how to differentiate themselves in the supermarket aisle.

"We said we wished we could just set people's phones off when they're standing in front of a product," said Glanz.

All of a sudden, we thought, 'We have something that can do that "- the bus-tracking technology.

Densebrain devised small beacons that, hidden from view, could be attached to shelves, emitting inaudible, high-frequency sounds that trigger smartphone messages.

As long as consumers have loaded the app integrated with the technology, the smartphone will respond to the sound without the customer doing anything.

In the store, the system could alert shoppers to special promos. At home, reports Adweek, it could provide interactive content cued to TV shows. It could even do well at live concerts and sports events.

Oh yes, the software does allow people to opt out of messages.

Check out how easy it is at

Glanz says they are talking to drugstore chains, as some TV networks, major sporting events, and music festivals.

At a music event in New York in October, attendees were asked to download a Sonic Notify-powered app; of those who did, 85 percent engaged with it. Content about the bands and on-site promotions was triggered by the music.

Other apps including Shopkick including have used audio signals to reward consumers when they walk into certain stores. But consumers need to launch those apps first.

Rodney Williams, assistant brand manager at Procter & Gamble, said Sonic Notify was more passive.

If Sonic Notify gets enough traction, Williams told Adweek, "it could change the way brands reach consumers."

The biggest challenge, he said , would be getting stores and brands to take it up. My resident shopping expert added one more challenge: the irritation factor of having your phone constantly ringing when you are trying to complete the wekend shopping.

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