Profilium says it has developed a way to track wireless subscribers' habits and calling patterns, and the places they visit, in an effort to send targeted and personalized advertising messages to users. - By Meg McGinity, Inter@ctive Week
24 May 2000 - Demon Systems (www.demonsys. com), an Internet development company, shares a management team — and is in a strategic alliance — with Profilium (www.profilium.com). The companies are working together to roll out the highly targeted advertising messages that will appear on wireless phones and personal digital assistant devices.
"We take a wireless subscriber and track the habits of that subscriber throughout the wireless network," says Alexander Legendre, director of business development at Demon and co-founder of Profilium.
According to Legendre, Profilium has been in development for about a year and has been filing patent applications for its location-based technology. Although he would not specify the underpinnings of the technology's workings, Legendre says it is different from other location-based techniques such as global positioning systems and triangulation.
Profilium is a software company that mines data from a network service provider's systems. The software, housed in an operator's switches, picks up on the same information that wireless service providers require for things such as billing and marketing.
The company's executives are quick to point out that because the technology builds its information on anonymous user profiles privacy is not an issue. Using the Profilium software, it could be gleaned that a user has visited a certain baseball stadium 30 times within two months, goes golfing every Saturday and travels often. Advertisers might like that particular demographic and could be interested in sending a spot message to that user.
"We don't care about the name of the person, their phone number. We just want to know their movements. To us, the user could be user profile #12345," Legendre says.
Still, there may be many wireless users who find such personalized and targeted messages to be unnerving. Executives at Profilium say that subscribers can "opt out" of the service. Of course, users who don't mind being targeted can choose to "opt in" and provide even more detailed information about their buying, usage or calling habits that might encourage advertisers to grant discounts on services in exchange for viewing messages. For example, turning on his phone after getting off an airplane, a user who travels often might get messages about special discounts on rental car packages.
Profilium will debut in September with "one big network service provider," in Canada, the company says. Tested on a pilot basis, about 10 percent of the as-yet-unnamed provider's customer base will be using this service.