Beware! The Age of Mobile Phone Advertising Is Upon Us

Advertising is what drives almost every industry. As consumers, we’ve gotten used to seeing ads during the course of our daily activities. We see commercials on television (even if we’re watching TV online). We hear ads on the radio. We see ads in magazines. And we are all used to deleting the ads that come to our email inboxes. So it probably wouldn’t be difficult to conceive of receiving advertising on our mobile phones. That’s exactly where marketing advertisers are currently targeting their efforts. From SMS text ads to GPS targeted video ads, you can soon expect to get bombarded with sales pitches every time you turn on your cell phone.


Mobile Phone Advertising Options

There are many different types of mobile phone advertising that are being explored by marketers today. Here are some of the ones that are already hitting the market or are likely to become a reality of our lives very soon.

SMS Text Ads. This is the most basic type of mobile phone advertising and it can be used for almost any phone. It is a simple text message that advertises a product to you and is sent via SMS. This advertising is being used by some businesses today although most countries have laws requiring that they offer an “opt out” option if you don’t want to receive these “spam texts”.

Video Clip Advertising. Right now when you turn on your phone you experience a short waiting period while it turns on and your settings kick in. In the near future, you might turn on your phone and see a short video clip advertising a product that may (or may not) interest you. As camera phones become ubiquitous and mobile broadband becomes more widespread, we are likely to see an increase in this area of mobile phone advertising that has only recently hit the market.

GPS Targeted Ads. More and more people are starting to use their cell phones for purposes of navigation. They turn to phone mapping to find out where they are and what businesses are near them. As a result, marketers are starting to keep an eye on interactive advertising based on the location of your phone. The way that you’d get information would be similar to what you see now on sites like Amazon that have a “recommended for you” feature worked into their design. Your phone would store information about where you go and what you look up on your phone and then use that to target cell phone ads based on your interests and geographic area. These ads may be either SMS message ads or video clip ads.

Mobile Web Ads. Mobile broadband is becoming more and more of a reality for the average cell phone user. In the next few years, it is highly likely most people who have a cell phone will also have and use web capacity on that phone. For that reason, there is a big market in advertising on websites that will be viewed through the mobile web. These ads may be text, image, video or a combination thereof.


Mobile Flyers. A service that has cropped up in recent months has been the distribution of “mobile flyers” advertising your product or service. These services take a flyer designed for websites, press releases or media kits and reduce it down in size and style to make it mobile-friendly. The mobile flyers provide basic information including contact info, maps and basic images. They can then be distributed to mobile phone contact lists. This service is only in limited use at the current time but may see growth if Google decides to make use of its acquisition of mobile social networking site Zingku.


Click-to-Call Voice Ads. If you know anything about online advertising then you are probably familiar with Google Adwords. Some VoIP providers are interested in bringing a similar system to the world of voice advertising. A major leader in this area has been Jajah, a company which provides multiple VoIP services including click-to-call widgets for websites and social networking profiles. They are testing out an opt-in voice advertising service which plays a short voice message ad whenever someone calls the number. Picture that you’re online looking at a business and see a “click to call” button. You decide to call to get more information. Instead of hearing the phone ring, you hear a short voice ad and then the call is connected. This lays new ground in advertising for all calls including mobile phone calls.

Cell Phone Ads around the World

Cell phone advertising is a fairly new market and businesses interested in making a buck are trying to figure out the best way to make this type of advertising work. This has created a slew of companies all around the globe that are testing out all of the different methods of mobile phone advertising. Only time will tell which businesses make it and which advertising models actually make money. However, there are some major parts of the world where the bulk of this testing is taking place.

Japan. Japan is known as a leader in mobile technology and it’s no different in the area of advertising. The mobile advertising sector in Japan makes up more than ten percent of online advertising budgets and is growing at a rapid rate of nearly 60% per year. Despite this, it makes up only one percent of total advertising in the country and therefore leaves a lot of room for additional growth.

Europe. Cell phone advertising is also getting going throughout Europe. Jajah (leaders in the VoIP voice advertising area) have dual headquarters in Germany and the United States. In the UK there is an ad-based mobile phone service called Blyk which allows you free phone minutes in exchange for viewing a certain number of mobile phone ads.

United States. The United States has seen a slew of start-ups (as well as bigger businesses) trying to make headway in the area of mobile phone advertising. Up until 2006 the major phone carriers in the United States were opposed to cell phone advertising but the market shifted that year and the four biggest carriers opted to start testing out mobile phone ads. There still aren’t a lot of ads found on mobile phones here but they’re starting to crop up in the market today.

Consumer Concerns

Nobody particularly loves the idea of getting more advertising than they’re already receiving from the world around them. Despite this, most people seem to accept that increased advertising is just a part of their lives. Although some consumers protest that they don’t want to be bombarded with cell phone ads, it is likely that these ads will start to get incorporated into cell phone use gradually until they become the norm.

Despite this reality, consumers do have some very real concerns about cell phone advertising. The biggest of these concerns is that they don’t want to get spammed with excessive advertising on their phones. To counter this, many countries already have laws in place which require “opt-out” options for mobile phone ads. Additionally, cell phones have blocking capabilities that can prevent some of this spam.

Another major concern is cost. Ads are designed to reduce the cost of cell phones. However, as long as mobile phones are charging by the minute or by data usage, there is consumer concern about getting charged for advertising that they didn’t want in the first place. Most companies have systems in place to prevent this from happening but it’s an area that marketers have to think about as they further develop mobile advertising.


Although there are gong to be problems that crop up with cell phone advertising, it is likely that this area of the industry is going to see continued (and potentially explosive) growth over the next few years. The mobile phone has become a tool of daily use just like the television and radio have been and that makes it a tool that is wide open forthe development of advertising.

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2 thoughts on “Beware! The Age of Mobile Phone Advertising Is Upon Us

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