Ads migrate to your handset

13 Nov 2006

Mobile advertising is in the early stages of development, and major stakeholders including cellcos, content providers and intermediaries are launching ad-hoc campaigns in a bid to find a way for mobile to fit into the overall advertising landscape

With its unique advantages of personalization, immediacy and interactivity, the mobile phone has emerged as an attractive advertising tool for brands and advertisers to reach new customers and target audiences. While using mobile as a medium to deliver advertising and marketing messages isn't a new concept, it has been used predominately for SMS-based direct marketing since 2000, and hasn't yet made a significant impact on the world of advertising.

Not until recently, that is. The industry is now seeing mobile advertising generate significant interest among mobile operators, advertisers and ad agencies. Over the past 12 months, after years of resistance, mobile operators are opening their services to advertising, working with publishers and vendor partners to pilot a number of different on-deck approaches - mostly WAP, but other platforms are beginning to emerge in video, downloads and search.

In the US, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel have launched initiatives to test how consumers react to short video ads on their phones. In Europe, 3 and Orange have begun selling banner ads on their portals to drive users to click on games and video downloads. In Asia, China Mobile and China Unicom recently announced plans to sell advertising space via SMS/MMS, games, IVR and mobile Internet services. Operators like 3 HK and SmarTone-Vodafone are partnering with media agencies and advertisers rolling out mobile advertising campaigns.

Meanwhile, media companies expanding their content to mobile are also keen in tapping the medium as part of their advertising offering to their clients.

Ringo Chan, VP of wireless development at Turner International Asia Pacific, says the company is seeing increased interest in mobile advertising from its clients.

'Every time our advertising sales team at CNN presents a campaign to advertisers, some of them ask: What about mobile‾' he says. 'Although mobile is now far from a mainstream advertising vehicle, advertisers understand that it's an alternative they could not omit and they have to embrace it.'

Rich media services
Not surprisingly, the recent buzz over mobile advertising is partly from the fact that mobile services are becoming increasingly content driven.

The increased rollout of 3G and HSDPA, mobile users' growing interest in multimedia content and emerging services like mobile TV and 'off-portal' search also open doors to advertisers to exploit the mobile channel for advertising opportunities.

If nothing else, consumers' increased acceptance of mobile advertisements also helps push cellcos and advertisers to explore the business opportunities. Findings from a recent survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by Enpocket, reveal that mobile users are far more accepting of mobile advertising when it is relevant. The Consumer Mobile Advertising report, conducted with more than 1,200 mobile Internet users across the US, Europe and India, shows that targeted mobile advertising is 50% more acceptable to mobile Internet users than untargeted ads.

Research firm Informa Telecoms & Media predicts that the next 12 months will mark the start of a sharp upturn in mobile advertising spend as the proliferation of cheap, high-quality multimedia handsets and the widespread availability of high-speed mobile networks reaches a critical point.

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