TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: The Marketers Have Your Ear

The Marketers Have Your Ear

Monty Solomon (
Wed, 25 Apr 2007 00:53:57 -0400

Beam of sound aims its messages

By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff | April 24, 2007

Advertisers have a new way to get into your head.

Marketers around the world are using innovative audio technology that
sends sound in a narrow beam, just like light, making it possible to
direct messages right into consumers' ears while they shop or sit in
waiting rooms.

The audio spotlight device, created by Watertown firm Holosonic
Research Labs Inc., has been used to hawk everything from cereals in
supermarket aisles to glasses at doctor's offices. The messages are
often quick and targeted -- and a little creepy to the uninitiated.

Court TV recently installed the audio spotlight in ceilings of
bookstores to promote the network's new murder-mystery show. A voice,
whispering, "Hey, you, can you hear me? Do you ever think about
murder?" was beamed toward customers as they browsed the mystery
section in several independent bookstores in New York.

For advertisers, the audio spotlight is a way of marketing to
consumers, sending tailored messages without disturbing an entire
store with loudspeaker announcements such as Kmart's iconic "Blue
Light Special." The flat disk speakers with precision targeting have
made sound possible in unlikely places -- from Boston's Museum of Fine
Arts to the New York Public Library -- and are increasingly attractive
to merchants trying to improve the shopping experience with a peaceful

Major US companies, including Procter & Gamble Co. and Best Buy Co.,
are testing the device, but it is already being embraced abroad. Some
marketers say it is only a matter of time before the technology takes
off here.

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