Trying the Interactive option

A new Toronto company is betting interactive marketing will take off in this country the same way it has in the u.s.Interactive Advertising, started a year ago by Peter Mijovick and Alan Bilewitz, has packaged the telephone, custom software and a...

A new Toronto company is betting interactive marketing will take off in this country the same way it has in the u.s.

Interactive Advertising, started a year ago by Peter Mijovick and Alan Bilewitz, has packaged the telephone, custom software and a lottery and offered it to the city’s real estate industry as another way to market itself to home buyers and sellers.

Bilewitz, whose background is in telecommunications, says Interactive’s first application works by having real estate brokers or agencies tag their business cards, market evaluation certificates or direct mail pieces with lottery numbers good for six draws.

To find out if they’ve won, consumers call a local number, then enter the four digits found on the business card or direct mail piece they’ve received, first listening to a 10-second commercial from the real estate broker or agency sponsoring the lottery.

Bilewitz says there are prizes of $10, $100 and $1,000 every month and an annual prize of $10,000.

Other prizes, he adds, are movie tickets or theatre tickets – including some for New York’s Broadway.

What Interactive has done, says Bilewitz, is take a usually passive piece of mail or business card and made it active. And because each item is good for six draws, it ensures multiple exposure, he continues.

Moreover, says Bilewitz, what Interactive’s application does is build a database of the names and addresses of people who did respond, further refining an advertiser’s target.

An earlier version of this interactive tool using a bingo game – since dropped because it was a too complicated for consumers – drew a 28% response rate, says Bilewitz.

(The response rate for regular direct mail is usually single digit, with a 2% rate frequently mentioned as average.)

Mijovick, who has worked in telecommunications and venture capital development, says because of the interactive nature of his company’s product he even recommends to clients they cut back on their direct mailing from 12 times a year to four.

Adrian Harvey, an interactive marketing consultant in Toronto, says what Bilewitz and Mijovick are doing is not entirely new, but is one of the first applications of this kind.

Harvey says another interactive real estate service is already operating in Toronto. Strategy found 362-HOME lists properties to rent or buy by district, but does not carry advertising.

A lot of Interactive’s success will depend on the integrity of its software program and how friendly the service is, says Harvey.

But he doesn’t doubt that interactive marketing has a huge future in Canada.

‘Interactive services are starting to catch on. There will be all different types of applications coming into existence,’ Harvey says.

‘It’s like the electronic gold rush in the States.’

A report prepared for Phonetix Corporation in Toronto says in the u.s., Ogilvy & Mather has opened an Interactive Marketing Group, J. Walter Thompson has JWT OnLine and Dow Jones and BellSouth have the Interactive Advertising Service, among others.

In Canada, says the report, there are such interactive applications as Air Canada’s flight arrivals and crew scheduling, Alcan Building Products automated dealer locator services and Caisse Populaire Desjardins help desk.

Interactive is already talking to the office supplies/equipment industry, says Bilewitz, as well as the automotive and hospitality sectors.

There has even been an inquiry from the Far East, he says, but points out Interactive wants to expand its business through licensing and franchise arrangements in Canada and the U.S. first.