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Rise of Direct Marketing to Mobile Phones

Business Week reports that Discovery Channel's "I Shouldn't Be Alive" profiles people who have survived some pretty unusual (and life-threatening) ordeals, from shipwrecks to snowstorms. It's also relying on an unconventional way to hype the show: cell-phone direct marketing.

On the eve of the second season's debut, Discovery Channel began offering prizes, free ringtones, and weekly trivia questions via short text messages(SMS) to subscribers of some of the country's biggest mobile-phone companies -- Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile.

So far, more than 15,000 people have signed up to receive SMS trivia and reminders to watch the show, and they are among its most loyal fans, says Julie Willis, senior vice-president for marketing at Discovery. "We are getting a lot bolder about mobile marketing," she says. "This is something everybody should be doing."

U.S. spending on marketing and advertising over wireless networks may surge to $602.3 million in 2009, from $104.4 million last year, according to consultancy Visiongain. And that's one of the more conservative estimates. RBC Capital figures the market will reach $1.5 billion by 2010.

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