Would you accept advertising to save money on mobile calls?

10 Nov Would you accept advertising to save money on mobile calls?

While attending a recent conference on mobile software platforms, I was struck by the amount of attention given to the future of advertising on mobile devices. Mobile operators, and providers of Internet-based services, are increasingly eyeing mobile advertising as their next big money-spinner. Analyst firm Gartner has predicted that by 2011 global revenue from mobile advertising will reach $12.8 billion – a huge increase from $1.7 billion in 2007. It might not just be operators and advertisers that benefit from opening up our phones to advertising. Users could benefit from cheap, or even free, calls and text messages funded by ad sales. This model is already being tested in the UK by Blyk , which offers free voice minutes and texts providing the user is willing to receive several “brand messages” per day by SMS. Only available to the attractive (to advertisers) 16-to-24 year old market segment, the company claims to have signed up over 100,000 subscribers already. There are good reasons why mobile phones are an attractive proposition to advertisers. They can provide a huge amount of information to allow precise targeting of ads to particular types of consumer – partly through the knowledge the mobile operator has of their customers, but also through the capabilities of the phone itself (such as GPS location). It’s even possible that our text messages and other data stored on our phones could be scanned for evidence of our interests – in the same way that Google scans e-mails received by users of its Gmail service for keywords in order to target ads effectively. Of course, for that to work then people will have to be willing to put up with advertising as part of their mobile experience. There may be areas where this is not too intrusive – most people are used to seeing ads when browsing the web, for instance. However, most of the time people spend using their mobile phones is not spent browsing, but using other features like the contacts book, SMS application, the call log – or even the clock. Would we be to put up with being shown ads while using those normal phone functions? Many companies are banking that we will – the Mobile Marketing Association is even drawing up guidelines for how best to include ads in native phone applications.

Business Weekly, UK, By Nick Sim, November 9, 2008