In an age where consumers' attention spans are short and millions of products and services are competing for their hard-earned cash, advertisers are hard pressed to find the best medium on which to sell their wares.
The ubiquitous mobile device appears to have found its way to the advertisers' list of viable ways to advertise, right up there with traditional media such as print and broadcast.
According to a TNS survey conducted during CommunicAsia 2007, 44% of respondents believe mobile advertising is already booming now. A little more than half that number, or 26%, see mobile advertising picking up by next year.
Another 16% believe the mobile medium will start to click before the end of the year, while the remaining 13% don't see a boom in mobile advertising until 2009.
No matter the opinion on the timing of the mobile advertising boom, the unique advantages that the medium offers have not escaped potential advertisers. Thirty percent of the TNS survey respondents see the interactivity potential as mobile advertising's strongest selling point.
Because mobile devices are used almost anywhere and in almost every situation, consumers can easily react to mobile ads, and the advertisers, in turn, can more easily respond to them.
However, the ubiquity of the medium and its huge potential for interactivity is also its biggest bane as an advertising platform. Excited to exploit the mobile device's unique characteristics, advertisers seem to go overboard with their promotions, annoying consumers instead of attracting them.
The survey reveals that 26% of respondents believe mobile ads are annoying, ranking it as the biggest barrier to adopting mobile advertising. Considering this, mobile operators and advertisers need to cook up ways to make their ads less obtrusive and more a part of a wireless subscriber's routine.
An almost equal number, or 25%, say the biggest barrier to adoption is the fact that consumers usually have to bear the cost of mobile advertising. This is usually the case for 'pushed' ads that then prompt receivers to download something in exchange for other free stuff.
Another 19% believe current technology is not mature enough for mobile advertising to really take off.
Seeming to present proof of the lack of maturity of current technology, 58% of respondents say SMS is still the most widely used format of mobile ads, followed by MMS with 33% of the votes and downloads with 31%. This despite the advent of 3G.
The CommunicAsia 2007 survey also showed 40% of respondents saying mobile advertising will become an important or extremely important revenue stream in the next two years.
Other mobile applications, however, will continue to get a larger share of mobile phone users' dollars.
In the next two years, wireless broadband will be the biggest dollar earner for operators, according to 35% of those polled. VoIP is deemed an extremely important revenue contributor by 26% of respondents, while Web 2.0 and user-generated content are seen accounting for a significant portion of operators' earnings by 24% of those surveyed.
Messaging - which includes both SMS and IM - will continue to drive the industry's growth in the next two years, according to 25% of the respondents.