TouchCommerce Releases TouchMedia

TouchCommerce, a provider of omnichannel engagement and mobile chat solutions, today announced the release of TouchMedia, a tool that allows customers to converse with companies through their mobile devices while interacting with offline ads.

The solution works with more traditional forms of advertising, including radio, television, and print (whether it's magazines, newspapers, or billboards), and gives customers the opportunity to immediately connect digitally to a company representative. A consumer can scan the audio of a commercial using audio reading apps like Shazam and others to identify it, and then TouchMedia redirects the customer to an engagement-enabled Web page with a live chat expert or other form of engagement selected by the advertiser. Likewise, companies may choose to provide a QR code that initiates an instant chat when scanned; or a phone number to which a code can be texted, which then opens an engagement-enabled Web page. When the customer is in the chat, the service agent can leverage the customer information recorded in RightTouch to send the user relevant content (e.g., videos, surveys, store information), or simply connect with them later. The solution will complement TouchConnect and TouchStore, which the company released last year.  

For TouchCommerce, the release is another effort to expand on offerings that seamlessly bridge the gap between online and offline channels.  "We are making sure that we are going beyond how we started as a Web-based chat company and branching out more and more and helping a consumer connect within the channel that will make the most sense to them," says Yann Motte, senior vice president of strategy and business development at TouchCommerce.  

For the company, achieving this aim is dependent upon making effective use of "second screens," which are becoming the norm for most customers when they encounter offline ads. Motte notes that while much of the world has gone digital, a hefty chunk of the nation's advertising budget is still dedicated to offline ads. "Most of the $160 billion that is spent every day in the U.S. on advertising is actually still going mainly to TV and print," he says. "Some of our clients today spend hundreds of millions—if not over a billion—in TV advertising." Yet not enough action is being taken to account for the vast amounts of money spent, he says. By tying traditional ads back to a system of record, companies can keep better track of how their efforts have paid off. It also allows them to talk with, rather than just at, customers instantaneously.

"Advertising too often feels like we're sending messages out into the void," says Jerry Rackley, chief analyst at Demand Metric, a global marketing research and advisory firm. "What I like about [TouchMedia] is it's a mechanism for improving engagement. This lowers the response barrier and makes it easier for a customer to do what marketers hope they will do. I don't think this completely closes the gap [between online and offline], but I think it narrows the gap."

One of the main reasons many companies have pulled back from investments in traditional media, Rackley points out, is that it hasn't been great at gauging metrics and attribution. "This will help make traditional media a little more relevant."  

Though TouchCommerce's focus for the product's first iteration is on offline advertising, it has plans to address the online segment as well, though Motte says that effort is still "in the early stages."

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