April 2007 - Editor's Perspective

Mobile Ads Get an Added Boost

Finally, U.S. mobile marketers have something to be a little more optimistic about these days. A new study conducted by Harris Interactive shows that 35 percent of adult cell-phone users are receptive to receiving incentive-based advertisements. What freebies would entice them the most?

Seventy-eight percent prefer cash, 63 percent opt for free minutes, while free entertainment-such as ring tones and games-and discount coupons are preferred by 40 percent of those surveyed.

Now before you run out and start producing those buy-one-get-one-free coupons, it’s important to note that cell-phone users want ads that have clear value propositions, are relevant and enable recipients to control how they are profiled.

The study also reveals that more than half of survey respondents prefer these ads to be sent via text message, while 40 percent say picture messages are more palatable. Less than 25 percent of cell-phone users actually favor ads that are sent to them as video.

With a strong enough incentive, are mobile phone users willing to share their valuable personal information? The answer is yes. In fact, 70 percent say they are willing to provide information about themselves to their cell-phone provider in return for the ability to customize the service to satisfy their needs.

In addition, 30 percent say they will allow mobile marketers to send them ads if the incentive is attractive enough. Another 20 percent are willing to receive the ad if they are given the control to turn them on or off, while 20 percent will accept the advertising on the condition that they can choose who the information is sent to.

Those surveyed also believe mobile ads could be attractive if marketers include: the ability to opt out, the choice in the types of ads consumers could receive and the choice of specific times when ads could be received.

That’s a lot for marketers to digest, but is it really that surprising? I mean when you consider how much the Internet has changed in recent years, where consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining how and when they want to receive online media, it’s only natural that cell-phone users would demand the same of their mobile media.

The United States has a lot of catching up to do in the mobile marketing space, especially in comparison to Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries. Japan is ahead of the curve with its innovative use of cell-phone technology. In fact, Japanese marketers are utilizing mobile phones to interface with Quick Response (QR) codes, which essentially are barcodes. These QR codes can be placed in print ads or billboards. Then when consumers point their camera phone toward the barcode, the device reads it and then links to the website of a particular product or service. To read more about mobile marketing in Japan, check out Tom Dellner’s article “Mobile Society“.

Although there are innovative U.S. marketers who are making an impact in mobile marketing, the rate of acceptance among consumers and even traditional marketers is still running at a slow pace. However, as the Harris study illustrates, if given the right incentive, maybe both will come around.

Vitisia Paynich


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