AT&T’s Free DA Rolls-Out Across California

SAN BRUNO, Calif. -- Upon the successful completion of a controlled trial in three U.S. cities, AT&T officially rolled out its free 1-800-YELLOWPAGES directory assistance service across California yesterday.

This service allows all 36 million California residents to request directory listings—either for a specific business or for several businesses identified by a request for a type of business—by using their voices. The service is free to use in exchange for listening to eight- to 10-second prerecorded ads tied into the listing information callers have requested.

The service incorporates Nuance Communications’ speech recognition engine with Apptera’s MobileAd technology. Volt Delta Resources’ integrated these technologies with its existing carrier-grade platform to provide the foundation for interacting with callers, routing calls among the solution components, delivering advertisements within the call flow, facilitating operator searches, providing content, and managing call context.

"AT&T 1-800-YellowPages works like an audio Yellow Pages to give callers free access to local and nationwide business listing information from any phone, 24/7," explains David Huntley, senior vice president of AT&T Customer Information Services. "For area businesses, we’re helping them reach potential customers who are in need of a service and are ready to make a purchasing decision."

After the speech engine collects and processes the city, state, and business listing request from the caller, the application automatically pings Apptera’s database, which scans its ad listings and returns a string to VoltDelta’s infrastructure letting it know which ad to play and where it can be found in the database. The whole process takes fractions of a second, explains Randy Haldeman, the chief marketing officer at Apptera.

If the speech engine does not understand what the caller has said, it automatically transfers the call to a live agent for clarification, and once the information is gathered, the agent transfers the call back into the automated system, he explains further.

Apptera’s MobileAd service gives local and national advertisers several options for reaching consumers:
• Category/Redirect Ad -- When a caller asks for a specific category or type of business, ads will be played for businesses within that industry. This feature gives advertisers the chance to persuade callers who do not have a specific company in mind to select their business. Or, when a caller requests a listing for a specific business, an ad for a competitor in that category may play, provided that the originally requested business is not a participating advertiser. The consumer selects which listing to receive.
• Requested Listing Ad -- When a caller requests a listing for a specific business, an ad for that business is played before the number is given. This provides businesses an opportunity to promote specific offers and services.
• Sponsorship Ad -- This feature announces to the caller that the advertiser"s company is sponsoring the call and plays an ad that promotes the advertiser’s products or services. Advertisers may use this type of ad to encourage a call to their own business at a later time.

With in-call values at $4 to $8 per ad, as opposed to mobile text ads currently valued at 3 cents to 5 cents per ad, the value proposition to service providers, advertisers and businesses is exceptional, according to an Apptera spokesperson.

 “Apptera’s MobileAd Technology is a positive enhancement to the directory assistance platform that we built for AT&T’s 1-800-YellowPages service,” Rich Oldach, executive vice president of Volt Delta Resources, said in a statement. “Integrating targeted advertisements into phone-based services offers another key tool that our customers, such as AT&T, can use to customize their service offerings and drive new sources of value to their consumers.”

The launch of AT&T 1-800-YellowPages throughout California follows trials that began in December in Bakersfield, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Oklahoma City, Okla. During the trial, caller and advertiser response was overwhelmingly favorable, according to officials at both AT&T and Apptera.

“AT&T is providing a great service to the people of California,” says Marketta Silvera, CEO of Apptera. “This is a win-win-win scenario. By integrating our MobileAd Technology into the VoltDelta platform, AT&T is able to monetize free 411 calls with relevant ads. Consumers get their information for free, and advertisers get to promote their products and services at the exact time a caller is searching for a similar business.”

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