Move over, short codes, there’s another vanity number in town.
Zoove, a company which handles a registry of star-star vanity numbers like **SUZUKI (**789854), has closed its grip on the top four U.S. carriers by signing up T-Mobile USA and Sprint to its service, which already includes Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
By calling a star-star number registered with Zoove, customers receive a text message or voice mail linking them to marketing materials such as an app, website, coupon or video.
The service works across both feature phones and smartphones, regardless of operating system. Star-star numbers can be set up to reflect a company’s brand. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM has licensed **FLOWERS (**3569377) as part of its upcoming Mother’s Day campaign, and Girl Scouts have licensed **GSCookies (**472665437) to link users to a directory of cookie sellers in their area.
Zoove says its star-star numbers make it easier to add a mobile element to an advertising campaign than short codes, which can take a while to implement, or 2D bar codes, which require users to have smartphones equipped with the proper scanning app.
“There is no friction with Zoove; it’s simple. We work across all phones and carriers. We’re cross media, cross market and require no change in user behavior,” says Joe Gillespie, president and CEO of Zoove.
Gillespie believes star-star numbers could unseat vanity short codes because they can be easily remembered and branded to a particular company.
Zoove spent five years getting its SS7 operating system deployed across carrier switches so that it could begin offering its star-star numbers service. When a star-star call is initiated, it mirrors the functionality of a 1-800 number or 911 call so that the text or voice mail response comes back to the user’s phone quickly.
Zoove handles the deployment of star-star numbers with its carrier partners and manages a registry of star-star numbers. Zoove also makes sure the campaigns align with carrier’s marketing policies and provides its clients with an online content management system so they can monitor their campaigns.
There are some drawbacks to star-star numbers. The limits of the dial pad mean companies may have to compete for their own numbers. For instance, NBA and NBC share the same code. Gillespie believes this could drive up bidding on the numbers, like what has happened with some popular URL addresses.
Looking ahead, Gillespie believes there will be a huge market for generic star-star numbers. Perhaps some day soon, we’ll be able to dial **PIZZA to get delivery instead of combing through listings on the mobile Web.