Hyper-Local Ad Network Chalkboard Helps Stores Increase Walk-In Traffic

Mobile advertising continues to be a hot topic, with new startups cropping up everywhere lately. And now we have South East Asia- and US-based Chalkboard throwing its hat into the ring, a hyper-local mobile ad network for brick-and-mortar stores that want to increase their walk-in traffic.

Chalkboard’s goal is to boost the relevance of mobile ads, by bringing promotions to potential customers when they’re near the store. The way it works is extremely simple: business owners hoping to drive footfall traffic can let Chalkboard place targeted ads or real-time promotions in mobile apps (developers can integrate ads via a customizable API).

Setting up an account and entering a 160-character text for a promotion is enough to have it instantly appear in apps that are part of the Chalkboard ad network. The promotions then show up on the cell phone screen automatically when shoppers are within 1km or 1 mile of a store (when they are much more likely to actually walk in and make a purchase).

Users can click on the ads to view the promotion, access maps/directions or share the information with their friends on Twitter and Facebook. Here’s how an ad/promotion delivered via Chalkboard typically looks:

Customer heat map around a store:

Business owners can run an unlimited number of promotions (sent in via the dashboard, Twitter or SMS) to an unlimited number of users for a flat fee, which starts at $0.99 per day.

And the Chalkboard concept seems to work: the eponymous company says in 6 months, it has attracted 1,373 businesses in Singapore (via a combination of local retailers, shopping malls and credit card companies) and 1,170 businesses in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (where operations will start next month).

Chalkboard received an investment from Joi Ito’s Singapore-based Neoteny Labs fund and now plans to expand its operations to the US, right after SXSW 2011.

For the US market, Chalkboard says it already has a number of mobile app developers signed up to be part of the network. Most notably, the company has teamed up with Oecoway, maker of the popular Facebook app Friendly for the iPad (ads and promotions will be integrated in Friendly’s “Places” function soon).

See below for early screenshots:

Here’s the official Chalkboard company video: