Finding Content with Wireless Advertising (573 words)
by Brendan Maher
The three Rs will be fundamental in driving advertising to personal wireless devices. Reaching the customer at, "the right time, the right place and in the right context," will not be a mere plus for the medium, it will be absolutely critical, according to Mats Eriksson, product business manager for Ericsson Mobile Internet Applications.
"This is clearly a sexy route," says Chris Dennis, CEO of Mediatude, a U.K.- and Sweden-based company that, with Ericsson, conducted a pilot study to explore the viability of wireless advertising among more than 5,000 mobile phone users in Sweden.
"With a mechanism attached to the consumer's hip, you have the ability, on a permission basis, to access those consumers in an almost flawlessly targeted manner. This is a giant step in the direction of one-to-one marketing," Dennis says.
But, this isn't just another plan to triangulate a person's location and gently nag, "Wouldn't you like a café latté?" every time he or she passes a Starbucks. No, even as hundreds of companies have moved on to dot-com heaven because their sites were hardly worth visiting, wireless advertisers are latching on to the "content is king" model. Instead of the constant push, Ericsson and Mediatude, along with Mediatude's partners, are providing things the participants actually want.
How about sports scores, IT news, stock prices or e-mail? People want them. Some even claim to need them. But these services cost money. With advertisers footing the bill, the customers are happy, and the advertisers can enjoy a nearly 100-percent reach to a highly targeted audience.
Research subjects in the pilot study were given the option of receiving a free short message service (SMS) through their mobile phones if they'd complete a user profile and agree to accept advertising messages attached to subscribed content.
The research, which was carried out by Netsurvey, confirms that people are willing to accept the messages. In all:
• 75 percent would like to influence the advertising messages they receive.
• 70 percent reacted positively to ad messages in exchange for free SMS.
• 60 percent reacted positively to targeted messages.
• 40 percent reacted positively to advertising messages via wireless phones.
• 28 percent were interested in the campaign/offer.
• 18 percent actively pursued more information either digitally or through independent research.
Ericsson, for instance, used the channel as a recruiting tool. Targeting those who elected to get IT headlines or the latest news on the Napster case, Ericsson asked if anyone was looking for a job.
If you're looking for direct response, this channel currently has a leg up on the Internet. Until voice over internet protocol (VoIP) becomes a commonality, SMS is the only direct response ad that allows recipients to check out the Web site, send an e-mail or be connected to a call center with a push of a button.
Dennis and Eriksson see this field moving to the point where things such as conference calls or even entire phone plans can be provided to the customer sans charge.
"We have an opportunity to offer the customer real value," says Dennis, "but it has to be an opt-in policy. You can't hoodwink consumers when it comes to their phones."
Many have expressed concern that corporate messages through wireless devices—often the very tools on which people conduct their own business—will become intrusive. Eriksson and Dennis recognize these negative connotations, but believe wireless advertising can become a powerful medium as long as the consumer is in control.