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Community Service

Now you can take your ads to specific communities of mobile phone users.

Social networking is popular. Cell phones are popular. Electronic advertising is popular. So why not put all three together? AirG has done just that. With 85 mobile operators and media companies onboard, AirG powers mobile social networking and already has more than 10 million unique users worldwide. AirG's mobile communities are available on 90 percent of cell phones in the U.S., and users spend an average of 59 minutes a day on the service. Those are the kinds of numbers that can make advertisers salivate.

Using social networks and mobile communities offers an opportunity to target very specific classes of users.AirG is able to tailor ad campaigns based on criteria such as location, area code, age, gender and income level. Ads can take the shape of traditional banners or click-to-call promotions that connect the user directly to a business. A localized focus can help growing businesses get the most out of their advertising budgets.

Targeting mobile communities is part of a larger movement toward advertising on mobile phones. It may take awhile for smaller businesses to embrace this sort of marketing, but the growth of mobile social networks and the advertising opportunities they offer could become big lures over the next few years.

 

Web On Wheels
Car-based computer systems are picking up speed.

Wireless broadband services rolling out on cell phone networks across the country are giving entrepreneurs new ways to get online. New car-based computer systems are bringing the internet into autos--an intriguing prospect for mobile entrepreneurs who want to use their cars as mobile offices.

For example, KVH Industries' TracNet 100 hooks up to your in-vehicle video monitors to provide web access and MSN TV. But it's not for the faint of budget. The system costs $1,995 and requires an $80 monthly subscription to Verizon's EV-DO cellular data service, and another $10 monthly for MSN TV. But the fact that you can use your TracNet-equipped vehicle as a Wi-Fi hot spot sweetens the deal for entrepreneurs on the go, especially those who need to stay connected at remote work sites.

A different vehicle internet option can be found with Ford's FordLink system, compatible with new F-series pickups. Essentially, it's a Windows-equipped, tablet-style PC mounted in the truck.

FordLink is built in part with technology from Azentek. The Azentek Atlas is a sub-$2,000 Windows Vista PC that fits into the vehicle dashboard and can access the internet through Wi-Fi or a cellular broadband card. These systems cost a little more than a loaded laptop, but if your vehicle is your office, they're worth looking into. Expect more Azentek products to be on the market in the next few months.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the March 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Community Service.

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