Welcome to Mobile Advertising Hell


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Jackie Huba over at the Church of the Customer Blog has a great post called This is Nirvana?. In it she describes her incredulity at a Yankee Group analyst’s definition of Nirvana being, “the day when wireless users will experience mobile ads tied to their individual behavior, what they are doing, and where they are”. In stark contrast, Jackie’s idea of Nirvana is a tropical beach, Matt Damon and a banana daquiri.

Other than the Matt Damon part, I wholeheartedly agree with Jackie. The Yankee Group analyst’s scenario is Advertising Hell, not Nirvana!

Mobile phones are the most personal of personal devices. According to studies, someone loosing their mobile phone is likely to discover it missing three times faster than if they lose their wallet. Although some customers may be willing to put up with ads to get free calls, the idea that the majority of customers would be willing to put up with being passively bombarded with largely irrelevant ads all the time on their mobile phone is just not realistic. Indeed, according to the new Nielsen Online Global Customer Study, text ads on mobile phones is the least trusted form of advertising, trusted by only 18% of customers!

What is more likely is what Tomi Ahonen describes in his insightful book Digital Korea. In Korea, easily one of the world’s most advanced wired societies, customers use their internet-enabled camera phones to scan 2-dimensional barcodes on ads that they see on products, in magazines, on outdoor hoardings, even on TV. Scanning a barcode automatically takes the customer to the appropriate website where they can browse further or bookmark the site for later. The customer is in charge and actively chooses what is of interest. The camera phone enables the rest, literally at the push of a button.

What do you think? Would you be willing to put up with advertising on your mobile phone? Or is that just too much of an invasion of privacy?

Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
Interim CRM Manager

Graham Hill (Dr G)
Business Troubleshooter | Questioning | Thoughtful | Industrious | Opinions my own | Connect with me on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamhill/


  1. Graham,

    I am with you. Mobile phone ads that are pushed at me will prompt me to turn the service off. However, if they are available when I need them, that’s a different story.

    Add to this the Nielsen Online Global Study finding that only 18% of people trusted text ads on mobile phones.

    John I. Todor, Ph.D., Author of Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company.

  2. John

    I am not particularly interested in having ads pushed to either of my two mobile phones. I have nothing against advertising, in fact, I am a strong supporter of businesses being able to advertise freely, just not in my face. And that’s the problem. The history of advertising strongly suggests that that is exactly what will happen. Mobile telcos will rent access to my mobile phone to the highest bidding advertiser to push whatever they want to sell in my face. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the ads will be relevant; the mobile telcos and their advertisers don’t know anywhere enough about me, my buying behaviour and the situation I find myself in at that particular moment in time, to have a hope of knowing what is relevant to me. The existing tragedy of the advertising commons will rapidly expand to become the tragedy of the mobile advertising commmons.

    What would make me change my mind? The only thing would be giving me complete control over what ads I am sent and a reward for being provided access to my mobile phone, irrespective of whether I looked at an ad and clicked through or not. This could be done centrally by the mobile telco through an ad serving business rules engine that I could use to dynamically control the rules that decide what ads I would accept. Rewards could be deducted from my monthly invoice. Ultimately, this could be done with ad managing software installed on my mobile phone that I could use to control the ad serving rules directly.

    The idea that the customer should control their own marketing destiny is taken up further by two blogs: Doc Searls’ ProjectVRM blog at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and Alan Mitchell’s Right Side Up blog at the Buyer Centric Commerce Forum.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  3. There is a strong trend to think that all media has same key to be successful. This is a wrong way to see the picture. Mobile ads nowadays are in limbo of effectiveness to be popular because of that. Marketers need to learn how to address it.

    In parts of world like Scandinavian countries some of then got big results focusing it not like an ad, but like customer service. To me this kind of research made by Nielsen could generate a wrong picture, because is the same that to test a new trade mark not ready with an established one.

    I will give factual support to my affirmative. Research point Brazil like top trusting in ads and also mobile text ads like less trustable form. Of course since text ads in mobile do not exist in Brazil, except from Operators that is completely unwanted and bad marketing solution. It’s impossible to trust in what you do not know.

    I think that in mobile marketing the word ads must be changed to ad-service. Customers need to find a gain relation tied to approve it.

    The fact is that Mobile Marketing is less expensive that any other kind of contact with customers, have a strong potential to mass propagation and cellular users are permanently connect to this channel.

    Of course if you use it like invasive toll is also more negative that any other form of communication.

  4. hi
    i am also associated with one of the handeset company FLY MOBILE
    earlier was with VODAFONE /RELIANCE (service provider in india)
    i have also heard of ads in your mobile phones
    but never exp as not there in india
    but i am sure it will create lots of panic & lot of trouble
    as to get to one call on has to listen these
    but if that is optional as and when i required i can hear them
    or otherwise i can directly connect my self to a simple call without
    any further trouble


    vishal parih


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