In 2006, ATS spun off its Advanced Mobile division.
It received funding from Ben Franklin Partners.
Last week, the division was sold to publicly traded AutoByTel.
IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–September 30, 2013–
Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL), the company dedicated to helping consumers and dealers connect online, today announced it has acquired Advanced Mobile, LLC, a provider of innovative mobile communications services designed specifically for the automotive industry.
As a result of the acquisition, Autobytel will offer auto manufacturers and dealers the ability to connect with consumers using a preferred method of text communication via a secure platform that protects consumers’ privacy. In addition, Autobytel will offer dealers a comprehensive suite of mobile products, including mobile apps, mobile websites, Send2Phone capabilities and text message marketing.
Founded in 2006 and based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Advanced Mobile serves the automotive industry with a full range of advanced mobile technologies. These technologies facilitate communication between dealers and car buyers on smart phones and tablets at the time, place and in a manner preferred by consumers. This advanced platform will be the core of a wide array of mobile services Autobytel offers to its dealer and manufacturer customers, and will also be available to consumers through Autobytel’s websites.
Since 1995 when Autobytel pioneered the automotive Internet, the company has grown to become a leading provider of new and used car leads and marketing services for dealers and manufacturers nationwide. The company’s flagship website, Autobytel.com, is one of the nation’s leading online resources to help people research, shop for, buy, sell and own a car.
“We led the way nearly 20 years ago when we invented online car buying, and we now intend to lead the way in mobile,” said Jeffrey Coats, President and Chief Executive Officer of Autobytel Inc. “Last year, more than 326 million U.S. wireless subscribers sent more than 2 trillion text messages, or more than 171 billion per month. We believe that the explosive growth in smart phone and tablet use represents significant mobile communications opportunities, especially for the automotive industry, which has been searching for ways to safely and legally utilize mobile technologies. This acquisition enables us to offer the industry the mobile resources it requires to successfully communicate with car buyers in a preferred manner.
“We expect the technology and team built by Advanced Mobile to be an important asset to Autobytel and to its dealer and manufacturer customers, allowing them to capitalize on the new frontier of mobile,” Coats said. “Adding these new and innovative mobile technologies to the high-quality leads we deliver to customers–internally generated leads that convert to sales at roughly three times the estimated industry average–will help manufacturers and dealers sell more cars, more efficiently.”
“We created Advanced Mobile to help clients cultivate a mobile eco-system to drive their businesses forward,” said Bret J. Dunlap, President and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Mobile. “We believe that our extensive suite of products and industry experience is highly valuable to auto dealers and manufacturers who are seeking the greatest possible returns for their marketing investments. Our goal of helping clients sell more cars is completely aligned with Autobytel’s, and we look forward to continuing to help our customers realize the full benefits of mobile technology.”
Advanced Mobile will continue to share space with the legacy company Advanced Telecom Services in its new King of Prussia, PA offices. Some employees will be transferring to AutoByTel headquarters in Irvine, California and many will remain in the Philadelphia area.
King of Prussia, PA — After 24 years at its original corporate headquarters in Wayne, Pennsylvania, ATS has moved its business to new offices in neighboring King of Prussia, PA.
On September 3, 2013, ATS opened its new offices at Parkview Towers in King of Prussia. The new facility is part of the Valley Forge Casino Resort complex that also includes a Sheraton Hotel, several casual and fine dining restaurants, a pool, health center, nightclubs, and one of Pennsylvania’s newest casinos. Less than a mile to the west is the Valley Forge National Park and a mile to the east is the world-famous King of Prussia Mall which is the largest mall in America.
“We love the extra amenities that we have here at the resort that our employees can enjoy,” said Bob Bentz, president of ATS Mobile and Advanced Telecom Services. “We’ve already had some customers visit and they love the location, visiting the casino, enjoying the entertainment, and everything that comes with being in a resort complex. Having a Sheraton connected to our office also makes it very convenient to host out of town customers. They don’t ever have to leave the complex if they want.”
ATS, which began as Advanced Telecom Services in 1989, has been a long-time provider of interactive telephone services for advertisers, advertising agencies, and media. Since its inception, it was housed in what is now the GPX Building in Wayne, Pennsylvania–part of the Chester County Technology Corridor.
The new, updated office space has an open floor plan and six closed offices for senior management. The focal point of the office space is the combination kitchen, dining area, and meeting room. Numerous smart TV’s are on the office walls and are utilized for meetings and employee training.
ATS encourages its customers and prospects to visit our new offices in King of Prussia. We think you’ll enjoy your visit.
Wings To Go Text Message Marketing
CLIENT: Wings To Go West Chester
PROMOTION: Initially, customers were asked to text “WINGS” to 84444 to receive 15% off their next order. These customers were then added to the Wings To Go West Chester text club. As members of the club, these customers enjoy exclusive weekly deals and opportunities, like saving up to 25% off their next order by getting friends to join the club.
Wings To Go also implemented monthly contests through text message marketing. For example, during the NBA championship, customers were asked to text “NBA HEAT” or “NBA SPURS” for the chance to win a package of wings, fries and drinks if their team won. A similar contest ran in the month of April, where customers texted their favorite sauce flavor to win free wings.
THE ATS SOLUTION: Wings To Go used our 84444 text interactive service.
RESULTS: Wings To Go West Chester has been very successful since launching their text messaging campaign with ATS Mobile. Customers redeem coupons daily and even more customers join the club every day. Wings To Go West Chester sees more orders per week than ever before and recently expanded their mobile presence to a mobile website and customized QR Code.
Wayne, Pennsylvania – You probably don’t see them as often as you once did, but you won’t see them at all soon.
IVR service bureau companies have been informed by Verizon, owners of MCI, that it will terminate billing for all 900 number pay-per-call programs in the United States, effective December 31, 2012.
900 numbers enjoyed an astounding run in the 1990’s as businesses like Microsoft used them for computer technical support. The US Passport office also employed 900 numbers for expedited passport requests. You could even listen to the astronauts on the space shuttle via a 900 number.
Then, there were the 900 number programs that usually consisted of girls in hot tubs saying “call me” on late night television. In most cases, when you did call, you probably got a lot less than you might have thought you were getting, especially since the major carriers banned billing for adult content within two years of the mass introduction of 900 services in 1989.
But, the place where 900 numbers had the most lasting impact in the minds of the consumers was in entertainment. Singer Michael Bolton had a popular 900 number for his fan club and WWF heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan’s 900 number was the most called number in the nation. And, who could forget Dionne Warwick and her Psychic Friends Network which was said to have earned $1 billion per year in the early 1990’s.
Psychic Friends Network went bankrupt in 1998 under a burden of heavy debt imposed on it by a tsunami of chargebacks and other disputes with the telephone companies who were unable, or unwilling, to collect from consumers on its 900 number calls.
You would have thought they could see that coming.
Why 900 Numbers Disappeared in the USA
Although the internet has taken a ring out of the pay per call (900 number) industry worldwide, in most countries, the business is still quite viable. In fact, in Canada, 900 numbers have actually showed an uptick thanks to participation television in recent years.
So, why didn’t the business survive in the United States?
There are several reasons that contributed to the demise of 900 numbers in the USA.
- No Cell Phone Access – For some inexplicable reason, mobile carriers in the USA never allowed calls to 900 numbers. This is commonplace in nearly all other countries.
- TDDRA – In July, 1996, this FTC policy outlined strict regulations for the pay per call industry. An industry that was at one time entirely under-regulated was now tremendously over-regulated. One such regulation allowed consumers to request a chargeback (rebate) on 900 number calls that would be required to be granted for first time requesters. With telephone companies unable to enforce its charges, it didn’t take consumers long to realize that they could abuse the system and not pay for their 900 number calls. “Your cat made the call? No problem, we’ll reimburse you.” (Yes, this was an actual reason why a consumer was granted a chargeback on a 900 number call.)
- Internet – Paid information by telephone became an after-thought once the internet took hold. Why pay for sports scores or weather reports when they could be obtained for free online? The internet also eliminated some major 900 number categories like newspaper and radio-sponsored personals services. It just made more sense to use the internet for dating, as it could deliver an important element that the phone could not: a photo.
- Carrier Greed – From the beginning, the carriers charged an exorbitant amount for its transport services for 900 numbers, as much as .35 per minute plus 15% of the cost of the call. While the cost of telephone calls declined rapidly over the past two decades, the carriers never lowered their rates on 900 numbers, thus making it impossible for low priced 900 numbers (common in other countries) to have a fighting chance. If there were a way to offer weather reports for 10 to 25 cents, we’d still have a market.
- 2002 – AT&T left the 900 number industry in 2002. As if that weren’t enough, MCI went bankrupt in 2002 and didn’t pay its customers for 900 number revenues. It was a double sided blow to the industry. When MCI emerged from bankruptcy, it enjoyed a 900 number monopoly and didn’t invest in any improvements to the business.
- Scams – When the 900 number industry began in the late 1980’s, it was self-regulated. Yeah, that worked well, didn’t it?
- Stigma – Most people don’t realize that Farrah Fawcett was only on Charlie’s Angels for one season, as she is the iconic figure of the show. The same with 900 numbers. Despite being banned by all carriers by 1991, the adult stigma of the early programs was long lasting in many companies’ minds and kept them away from the industry. It was a silly comparison since banks have long processed credit card transactions for hard core porn and nobody ever avoided banks. “Some of the companies we spoke to wouldn’t touch 900, because of something that they, nor we, had any direct involvement with.”
Mobile is the future and clearly the future for the pay per call business is with billing mechanisms. Already, the USA is running way behind Europe and Canada in providing worthwhile new mobile billing mechanisms such as the Pound Code.
Perhaps, being late to the party will mean that the industry won’t get off to such a rocky start as 900 numbers did.
About the Author
Bob Bentz is the president of Advanced Telecom Services which had been in the 900 number business since 1989. Fortunately, the company has reinvested itself in the mobile marketing business and now acts as the mobile marketing agency for many top brands and businesses.
You can follow Bob Bentz on Google + or on Twitter @BobBentz.
Have you taken a look at how your business’s website looks on a mobile phone? It’s likely not a pretty site.
A Mobile Website Means More Sales for Small Local Businesses
I know you’re busy. All small businesspersons are busy. We don’t have assistants and we don’t have enough staff. And, we wear a lot of hats.
So, your website for your business is probably one of those things you just don’t pay as much attention to as you’d like. In fact, you probably just got your website to where it needs to be and now some guy is telling you that you need a second website—a mobile website.
Why Your Business Needs a Mobile Website
Seventeen percent of all web searches done today are conducted on the mobile phone and for some categories such as restaurants, over 30% search by mobile. That’s not surprising given that twice as many Americans went online via their mobiles in 2012 versus just the year before.
Take a look at how your website looks on the small screen of your smartphone or even your feature phone. It’s likely not a pretty site (get it?). It’s tough to navigate and it’s hard on the eyes. How can they even see that microscopic type on your informative, yet very busy, home page.
Over 40% of local searches today are conducted on the mobile phone while on the go. Yet, only 7% of small business websites are optimized for the smaller screen of the mobile phone! Imagine how your company could stand out with a mobile-optimized website.
Want to know how many people are looking at your website through a mobile phone? It’s easy if you have Google Analytics incorporated into your website. Take a look and remember that no matter what the number is, it’s likely to be growing rapidly. By 2016, half of all websites will be accessed from the mobile phone.
A mobile website, or “microsite” as we like to call them, takes the most important information from your desktop website and makes it available for mobile viewing. The content needs to be adapted to the smaller screen and the slower internet connection.
Navigation needs to be easier too since fat fingering a busy site is going to be commonplace. I like to use the “thumb test.” Try navigating a website using the largest of your fingers; if you can’t do it easily, then that’s exactly how its going to be for a large person or an older person with declining eye site.
Moreover, the potential customer visiting your site probably does not have the same conveniences that he has while sitting at his office or in his home. He’s likely to be walking down the street or riding in a car.
That means you need to create a website with fewer graphics, less text, and easier navigation buttons. You also need to incorporate features native to mobile phones such as convenient click-to-call buttons or TextChat features.
As for the navigation on the home page, we like to keep it to six or less buttons. Keeping it to this amount should satisfy the thumb test.
Remember, too, however, that there are now tablets in play and tablet owners are able to do more things given the larger screen of the iPad or similar tablet. That means your home page of the mobile website should enable to visitor to click back to the desktop website as well if he so chooses.
So, How Do I Get One?
You can contact your website designer and perhaps he can make a mobile website for you as well. If he hasn’t done one before, however, it may not be that easy.
Creating a desktop website and a mobile website is kind of like playing chess and checkers. While chess may be the harder game to understand, being a top player in checkers may be even more difficult.
A mobile website is really just one part of an overall strategy to satisfy your mobile customers and prospects. So, a fully integrated mobile marketing plan probably makes sense. Such a plan may incorporate all or some of these elements:
- Mobile website
- Text message marketing
- Custom QR Codes
An agency that specializes in all of the elements of mobile marketing may be just what you need to increase your sales to your on-the-go customers.
Expect to invest at least $1500 for a decent mobile website—a small price to pay for driving more customers to your local business.
Bob Bentz is president of Advanced Telecom Services which has been providing interactive telephone solutions since 1989. Due to his obsession with mobile websites, he has been forced to purchase an unlimited data plan.
With almost 50% of all searches for restaurants being done by mobile devices, a restaurant having a mobile marketing strategy is no longer just a good idea, but a means for future survival.
Restaurants are one of the most important retail categories for mobile users. In fact, those accessing restaurant websites from their mobile phones grew by 65% last year and this trend has continued this year as well.
The restaurant industry is built solely on brick and mortar locations, thus making restaurants the perfect storm for access by on the go customers. Yet, while restaurants are one of the most important categories for mobile users, it continues to be highly under-developed in terms of mobile marketing.
With 29.6% of all searches for restaurants being conducted on mobile devices, a restaurant having a mobile marketing strategy is no longer just a good idea, but a means for future survival. (Note – Your mobile access results may vary. Check Google Analytics and you can easily see what percentage of people are accessing your restaurant’s website from a mobile phone.
Searching for More Restaurant Customers
Searchers for restaurants are closer to the buying process than almost any mobile search category. Of smartphone users, 76% of restaurants searches are done while on the go and 51% of them are searching while in their cars.
This leads to 84% of mobile restaurant users that ultimately go on to make a purchase. Thirty percent of smartphone owners convert into customers immediately and more than 60% convert into paying customers within the hour. No doubt: mobile restaurant users are looking to make urgent and quick decisions on where and what to eat NOW.
Getting into Your Customer’s Pants
Mobile websites, or in some cases, mobile apps, are the basis for a restaurant’s handheld reputation. Ensuring that mobile websites and apps are optimized with the latest information about your restaurant should be at the core of all mobile restaurant strategies.
Your desktop website likely won’t do the job adequately. It’s probably too busy, won’t load fast enough, and isn’t easy to navigate on the small screen of the smartphone or feature phone. This all makes for a poor user experience.
A top revenue producing restaurant mobile website will go easy on the graphics and will keep text to a minimum. This helps with readability on the smaller screen and will enable the site to load quicker on the less than high-speed connection your customer may be using. We all know that if it takes too long to load, the customer becomes impatient and will likely leave.
In fact, 61% of visitors to a mobile unfriendly website will simply leave for a competitor’s website. That means decreased sales for your restaurant if you haven’t embraced mobile.
As for navigation, I like to tell restaurant owners to use the “thumb test.” Try navigating your current desktop website on a small feature phone. If you can’t press the buttons easily, then you’ll have the same user experience as a large person (your best customer) or an older person with failing eye site.
You’ll also want to add some of the industry standbys for mobile smartphones such as click to call for reservations and TextChat for information. With a click to call feature, the smartphone user simply touches his screen and dials the restaurant. TextChat allows the user to have an interactive conversation with the restaurant via text message.
An Added Bonus to a Mobile Optimized Website
Google now ranks websites that are accessed via mobile with an entirely different set of parameters than traditional desktop computer searches. If your mobile visitors are bouncing (leaving the site immediately after hitting the home page), your site’s search engine rankings will decrease. On the other hand, if you have a mobile-optimized website, and the visitors stick around and come back, you’ll see an up-tick in your search engine rankings.
Order Up a Complete Mobile Marketing Plan
When it comes to providing a positive experience for your mobile users, a mobile website and app is important, but it doesn’t just end there. A complete mobile marketing experience for the restaurant user includes:
- Mobile website
- Custom QR Codes
- Text Message Marketing
When scanned, a QR Code, for instance could return a video from the restaurant owner with a personal invitation to visit the restaurant or it could provide a video from the chef preparing his favorite dish. Remember that a Custom QR Code, one with your logo in it, gets 2.3x more scans than an ordinary black & white one.
With TextChat, your on-the-go customers can text the restaurant to ask a question or make a reservation. The hostess can take care of the requests from a desktop computer just as she handles traditional phone in reservations.
Text message marketing is the cheapest of all of the services and is able to provide mobile coupons to drive traffic on traditionally slower nights. Text message marketing also enables you to reach your customers when they are most likely to buy, like just before lunch or dinner hours. If you can only afford one service in addition to your mobile website, I’d recommend text messaging.
Getting To Your Customers Wallets
A mobile optimized website and a sound mobile marketing strategy provide a firm foundation for creating more restaurant sales. Hunger is a powerful motivator and there is no better category than restaurants to lend itself to the power of mobile marketing. The best way for your restaurant to get to your customers’ stomachs is through their mobile phones.
Bob Bentz is president of Advanced Telecom Services which has been providing interactive telephone services since 1989. You can follow him on Google+ and Twitter. He spends most of his day searching for restaurants via his smartphone.
If the do-it-yourself simplicity of text message marketing platform 84444 wasn’t easy enough, Advanced Telecom Services now offers a personalized learning experience with just a few clicks.
Because the hustle and bustle of the workweek leaves little room for schedule adjustments, attending webinars can be difficult when crunched for time. Many times, registration must be done at least a week in advance, and even then there is always the possibility of unexpected tasks taking priority.
With our personal webinar scheduler, YOU choose a date and time that is most convenient for YOU! Simply clicking on the respective day and time, and then entering a few details about your interests, you have successfully set up an appointment for your personal presentation. It’s really that simple.
Whether you schedule for a few days in advance, or later this afternoon, convenience is on your side. If you would like your personal introduction to mobile marketing or something more specific, use our scheduler here.
Advanced Telecom Services’ Bob Bentz was a featured speaker in the “Retail & Commerce” session at World Telemedia 2012 held in Marbella, Spain on October 18-19. Bentz’s presentation was called “Driving Car Sales” and discussed how over 1100 auto dealers in the United States are using the Cars2Go mobile platform to increase sales via mobile marketing.
The Cars2Go mobile platform, a service of Advanced Mobile, is a mobile marketing solution designed exclusively for auto dealers. It includes a mobile app, mobile website, text message marketing, custom QR Code, and TextChat.
If you weren’t able to be in Marbella, but would like to see the slides that Bentz presented at the show, you can view the presentation here. Sun not included.
It’s hard to believe that the Better Business Bureau has been around for 100 years now. We are great believers in an independent monitoring system like the BBB. So, even in a difficult industry, we are happy to submit our company to be monitored by the Better Business Bureau. Check out our rating at the BBB. Last time we checked, it was pretty good. Check it out here.
The year was 1912 and we hadn’t yet experienced a world war. The majority of the roads in America were made of dirt. You likely didn’t own an automobile, and if you did, it was a luxury to purchase gasoline for 7 cents per gallon.
If you’ve watched any old movies, you know that the early 1900’s were the days of the snake oil salesman. Shoddy products and practices were commonplace. There was virtually no protection for the consumer in terms of products or in advertising standards that made incredible claims to a less educated and more gullible public.
It was 100 years ago that the Associated Advertising Clubs of America, the forerunner to many of today’s advertising clubs, formed a National Vigilance Committee to focus on advertising standards. The National Vigilance Committee soon became known as the national Better Business Bureau.
Today’s Better Business Bureau exists to help consumers find trustworthy businesses and to help them make informed buying decisions. Consumers in the 21st century certainly have more information available to them via the internet, but the BBB continues to carry the torch as a mediator to those consumers that have a problem with a business.
Over the past five years, the number of complaints registered at the BBB has increased by 78%. Perhaps it has something to do with the struggling economy and perhaps consumers today are simply more empowered.
There is no doubt, however, that today’s customer values authenticity, honesty, integrity, and trust.. BBB Accredited Businesses like Advanced Telecom Services go a long way in providing the consumer with the confidence that it needs to do business with a company.
At Advanced Telecom Services, we are very proud of the A+ rating that the BBB has bestowed upon us.
Wayne, Pennsylvania — Advanced Mobile has won two prestigious Automotive Website Awards at the AutoCon 2012 trade show in Las Vegas. Advanced Mobile won awards for the Top Rated Mobile Website and Top Rated iPhone/Android App for auto dealers. Both are part of Advanced Mobile’s Cars2Go Services, which is the most comprehensive suite of mobile services designed specifically for automotive retailers.
The AWA is the highest recognition for companies that assist the automotive retail industry to operate more effectively. The honorees are selected after a rigorous testing and evaluation from the staff at PCG Consulting. The category “Mobile” was one of six Expo Themes at the show.
“We were impressed with the comprehensive suite of mobile tools Advanced Mobile provides and how these tools work together to maximize the mobile opportunity for
dealers. The engagement levels and lead conversion metrics delivered by their mobile websites and apps were compelling. Advanced Mobile has given a lot of thought to what it takes to create strong user engagement, which ultimately results in more, higher quality leads to the dealers” said Brian Pasch, CEO of PCG Consulting.
The 2012 Automotive Website Award ceremony was held at the Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Over 600 automotive industry professionals attended this prestigious awards ceremony, which identifies the most innovative technology and software solutions for automotive retailers.
David Sawyer, Executive V.P. of Business Development at Advanced Mobile was on hand to accept the award. “We are excited about the sales and CRM value our services drive for dealers and proud to be recipients of this prestigious AWA award. Our team has worked hard to provide our dealer customers with the very best mobile services available anywhere.”
About Advanced Mobile:
Advanced Mobile, of Wayne, Pennsylvania, is the leading provider of mobile services to the automotive retail industry. Through its Cars2Go Services, auto dealers have available to them the most robust suite of mobile services in which to engage their audience in a mobile friendly manner.
- AutoByTel Purchases Advanced Mobile
- ATS Mobile Opens New Offices
- Wings To Go Text Message Marketing
- Verizon Announces End to 900 Numbers in USA
- Your Mobile Website: It’s Not a Pretty Site
- Republicans Like Sex More But Do It Less – Advanced Telecom … | Grupo Media Center on Republicans Like Sex More But Do It Less
- URL on Top Ten Ways to Save a Wet Cell Phone
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