Last week, I attended a Kansas City Media Mix luncheon featuring Scott Jones, the CEO of ChaCha. ChaCha is a free, text-based question answering application; simply text a question to 242242, and you'll receive an "answer" to your question, along with some type of targeted ad integrated into the text-based response.

Jones shared that the predominant audience for ChaCha is 17 to 23 years of age, reflecting the intense texting activity in this age segment. He cited a recent study showing 68% of teens identified texting as their preferred communication channel. In fact, based on the age distribution chart Jones showed, I might be the oldest known ChaCha user as it has become my trial application for a couple of weeks.

After asking several questions of ChaCha, you get a four-question text-based survey to understand your age, location, gender, and phone configuration. This set of questions allows ChaCha to start profiling you, and along with your question history, provide targeted advertising opportunities. This is where it appears ChaCha is generating its revenue, since competitor KGB charges 99 cents per question. Interestingly, Jones reported that ChaCha had a large spike in usage about 5 minutes after the Super Bowl ad KGB ran. He attributed this to people trying KGB while teens in the room suggested using the free ChaCha service.

Texting is obviously an area of interest for marketers, especially those trying to reach a young audience. Of 280 million mobile phone subscribers, 233 million have text capabilities, and 70% of marketers are currently using or plan to use mobile within marketing campaigns.

It's a long holiday weekend, so if a question comes up and you're stumped, text a question to ChaCha and see what you get. The answers I've received so far have been in the ballpark, but often miss the mark relative to the desired level of detail. But, hey, it's free.

And just in case ChaCha doesn't know when Brainzooming will publish a new post again, it will be Tuesday. See you then! - Mike Brown