‘USA Today’ rolls out alert text messaging for readers

Stations looking to develop a presence and identity on the third screen, the tiny LCD displays on cell phones and other mobile devices, meet the proverbial 800lb gorilla.

“USA Today” is ratcheting up its presence on mobile platforms with a text messaging service that provides real-time news and information to those on the go. It’s not that “USA Today” stories haven’t been available on cell phones for years, but rather, the national newspaper will enhance its presence on mobile platforms with free text alerts on subjects of interest to those who sign up for the service. Topics such as news, sports scores, stock quotes and weather forecasts will be available.

The newspaper is partnering with 4INFO to offer the service, which has previously provided special-purpose text messaging of the newspaper’s content on select occasions, such as the NCAA basketball tournament, when 750,000 text messages were sent to readers.

Ad delivery is also tied to the new text messaging service. When readers receive a text alert with their news or entertainment information, messages will often be accompanied by a small ad offering related benefits or special offers. Readers can reply with a request for more information.