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Sprint's Data Control

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It's been more than a decade since Al Gore bragged about inventing the "information superhighway," and in that time the lanes have gotten crowded. Thanks to the advances in broadband and mobile technology, consumers have almost any fact or figure available at their fingertips -- so much so, in fact, that wading through the deluge of data can be daunting.

"Now," the latest campaign from Sprint and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, showcases the Internet's real-time tracking abilities with its centerpiece element: an app that presents live, constantly updating data ranging from practical (weather reports) to offbeat ("burgers sold now," "number of planes in the air") to promotional ("number of texts on Sprint phones"). Users can also click on each piece to flip the data over and find out where it came from.

Using a combo of live feeds from sources like CNN, The New York Times and YouTube, as well as statistical information compiled by Goodby, "Now" -- which launched in April as a full-fledged campaign-uses data visualization techniques to tap into consumer culture's latest obsession with digital connectivity and data consumption. And Sprint is not alone: brands including Nike, Zappos and Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo are also employing a variety of data-driven tools in their marketing.

"Now" focuses "on as many real-time feeds as we can so you can get the sense of things that are going on right now," says Derek Richmond, executive interactive producer at Goodby. The challenge: pulling together the approximately 80 elements.

"We're trying to create the world's greatest widget," adds Franklin Tipton, creative director at Goodby. "In a branding sense, it can go on forever."

The origins of "Now" began as an unpromoted app on the Sprint Web site last November. It proved so popular that Sprint and Goodby decided to make it a larger branding initiative with a new Flash-based site (produced by Mike Kellogg of San Francisco-based facefaceface) and a TV commercial, both of which launched in early April.

Launched last week were home page takeovers on YouTube and Yahoo, and customized banners that pull real-time data relevant to the displayed content. Later this summer, the data dosing will hit the streets with digital outdoor.

In its first three weeks, the site (sprint.com/ nownetwork) had nearly 700,000 visitors, and 10.1 million actions were taken within the Flash tools, representing approximately 15 actions per visit. Time spent on the site averaged four minutes, and the company says it has found that 38 percent of visitors go on to explore other areas of Sprint.com.

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