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Ad Trip

Ads that follow your customers wherever they go. No, it's not a hallucination. Wireless advertising is here-but will customers buy it?

This story appears in the August 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The smells of gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish fill the air of your Cajun restaurant. It's just after noon, and you're working the register while the lunch crowd files in and out. One of your regular customers walks up with her ticket and hands it to you-along with her mobile phone. You check the phone's minibrowser screen and give her 20 percent off on the shrimp etouffee. Your customer just cashed in a coupon. Welcome to wireless advertising.

You can't run down to your local ad agency and start flinging out mobile marketing just yet, but that day is coming. The fledgling industry has big plans for timely, personalized advertising. Some people envision consumers getting daily specials beamed to their phones when they walk past local restaurants, but many entrepreneurs just see it as a big-time opportunity to reach very specific and willing customers. For wireless advertising, the gumbo has just started to stew.

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