Effort touts technology of Pudding

SAN JOSE, CA: Free Internet phone provider Pudding Media, with assistance from AOR SutherlandGold Group, has launched a three-pronged campaign that now includes outreach to critics to calm fears about the technology.

SAN JOSE, CA: Free Internet phone provider Pudding Media, with assistance from AOR SutherlandGold Group, has launched a three-pronged campaign that now includes outreach to critics to calm fears about the technology.

Calls made with Pudding are scanned by an automated system that sends users online ads corresponding to keywords during the conversation. The advertising strategy caused an uproar among bloggers concerned that conversations were being recorded or monitored by human analysts. Some mainstream press outlets also reported on the controversy.

SutherlandGold account manager Erica Jostedt said the biggest challenge surrounding the campaign was clarifying to the public that conversations are not recorded, monitored by people, or archived. The company brought on Microsoft's former privacy officer and has posted a privacy policy on its Web site.

"[Pudding was] very open to the fact that this was controversial, and some people are not going to understand it," she noted.

The company launched its beta phone service September 24 at the DEMOfall conference in San Diego, followed by media outreach to bloggers, and business and advertising trade publications.

"For consumers, we really wanted to get out there that this is going to be the future of calling," said Jostedt. "This is completely new real estate for advertisers."

Because of conference guidelines, Pudding was not able to pre-brief the media about the technology, giving rise to misunderstandings, Jostedt said.

"When it's new technology like this, you have to have this conversation with media," she explained. "And sometimes it's hard to get bloggers to do that because they are so quick."

The company is also targeting other providers, such as Skype, as potential partners that could add its technology to their services.

Pudding's outreach has also included Spanish-language media. Future efforts will focus on partnerships and new features.

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