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Why Pay for Directory Assistance?

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Why pay for directory assistance? Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. If you've ever called directory assistance from your cell phone…and then checked your next bill….you know those calls can be expensive. Carriers often charge more than a dollar a call. That has opened the door for a company called Jingle Networks to step in. It is using technology to offer a free alternative. CEO George Garrick…

"We offer advertiser supported directory assistance. Which means that instead of having to pay a buck fifty or two bucks every time you call 4-1-1 for a phone number, you can call us and get it for free. And in return for your call, we have advertisers that will play short sponsor messages inside the call. So you'll hear an ad and the ad will pay for the cost of a call."

If you are near a computer…it is easy to look up a phone number for free. With Jingle Networks' solution…you can dial 1-800-Free411….and be connected. Garrick says the business model works….because speech recognition allows ads to be targeted to the type of phone number you are requesting….

"We can target by area code. We know where you are calling from. We know of course what you are looking for. If you're looking for a plumber, a hairdresser, a pizza parlor… we can target an ad that's appropriate."

The first ad plays before you request your phone number. Another plays before you get your number. Whether or not the 20 or thirty seconds of time spent listening to commercials is worth the money saved…may depend on the depth of your pockets and your patience. But more and more consumers are opting for the free alternative. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.