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Mobile Advertising
By Anthony Sziklai

Published: 11/07 ERA - Online Startegies

What is it: Mobile advertising involves displaying text, banners and video ads on data-enabled mobile devices. At this time, most ads in the U.S. are text ads delivered to SMS phones. Ultimately, many see rich content (e.g., mobile television) driving the growth of mobile advertising. There are a variety of push/pull mobile advertising models, including CPM and PPC models similar to Internet advertising.
Who does it: Only a few media buyers in the DRTV space offer mobile advertising, mostly because it's more suited for brands at this time. The big Madison Avenue brand agencies are probably the most experienced at large-scale SMS campaigns. Many have created mobile divisions in anticipation of a boom in mobile advertising.
Why bother: Few will argue that mobile phones are a true mass marketing channel, one that supports a variety of media (Internet, video, audio, games, etc.). But how much of this is hype, especially for the direct response marketer?
According to Koeppel, mobile TV is big in Asia, but not here in the U.S. We won't see television spots on U.S. handsets for a while. A major obstacle to the growth of mobile advertising is that most cellular phones still work on independent networks. Everything is still too fragmented. That said, it is predicted that 5 percent of digital budgets will be mobile by 2008. Major marketers such as Proctor & Gamble and Nike are already using mobile advertising. Search engine heavyweight Google is looking to become a major player in the mobile Internet marketplace with its gPhone. It sees the cell phone market as a huge growth opportunity, and will most likely be at the forefront of mobile search and PPC advertising.
One of the biggest debates in the mobile world is weather consumers will tolerate invasive "push" ads, or whether they will gravitate more to pull-type promotions, such as viral texting campaigns or location-based services. Many predict that consumers will be more willing to receive coupons as they walk by stores, or use their cell phone cameras to scan bar codes on the products to receive more information about the product. This application is already used widely in Japan, and may very well take off here.
On the other side of the debate, boosters of mobile advertising predict that consumers will be given free phones and free service options in exchange for viewing mobile ads. Personally, I would rather pay for a phone and not be interrupted by ads. And while it is conceivable that someday people will watch DRTV spots on mobile TV, I see phones evolving into more of a digital wallet and order-capture device that (once m-commerce standards emerge) can be used to buy products anywhere, at home, in a store, on a plane, etc. My future predictions aside, mobile advertising is something that I think every DR marketer should learn more about. Check out a research company called m:metrics, to learn more about the mobile market and where it is heading.
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