CBS to test location-based mobile advertising

CBS looks to strengthen its already substantial advertising network by adding text message ads to its portfolio.

While most associate CBS with its namesake television network, it already had a decently sized billboard advertising network. When Viacom and CBS split, the company received the advertising arm that was part of Viacom, which also was a player in the billboard space.

Social networking site Loopt will provide some of the backbone to this test. That service allows users to track their friends and family using location-based technologies built in to many modern cell phones.

Advertising based on a user's location holds great promise. For example, as a participating user passes by a store using the service, a text message could be sent out promoting a sale to draw him in.

Privacy concerns do rule the day here: some companies are leery of sending out unsolicited advertisements like this. However some believe that here in the US, consumers may be willing to receive these promotions as long as they are relevant and don't seem to be an intrusion of privacy.

The CBS program is opt-in, meaning that those interested have to sign up for the ads first. It won't work with all phones either: a GPS-enabled phone is needed, and a carrier deal with Loopt is required.

At this time, that means the functionality will only be available to Sprint Nextel subscribers, including Boost Mobile. However, Loopt is in negotiations with other carriers and expects to have them on board later this year.

No advertisers have been announced yet either, although CBS expects national retailers to be the first to take advantage of the program.

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