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Mobile Users Want Free Goodies, Few Ads

Are ads the key to mobile content adoption?

March 18, 2008

Getting mobile users to do anything besides talk presents a conundrum. Users are far more likely to interact with mobile multimedia if the cost is low. Yet getting them to view mobile ads, which would pay for the content, can be tricky.

3ple-Media addressed this problem in a March 2008 study. The mobile multimedia company found that more than one-half of mobile subscribers worldwide surveyed said they looked forward to getting mobile multimedia.

More than one-half of respondents said they were also willing to pass along ads to other users in exchange for various incentives. Free downloadable music tracks drew the highest percentage of "quite likely" and "most likely" responses, second only to free talk time minutes.

The ads used to reach mobile users in the first place could be perceived as spam, however. When considering unsolicited mobile messages, respondents were overwhelmingly likely (96.4%) to consider the messages as spam if they came from brands. Messages from operators were much less likely to get such a reception.

Respondents usually considered messages that came from other sources to be spam as well—unless they actually used them.

In other words, spam is spam until you're actually interested in the offer.

How to promote mobile content is a key question for the industry right now, as it struggles to move past simple voice access.

When Internet access became a commodity, some ISPs tried to become content providers. 3ple said that mobile companies are facing the same questions as the market for mobile voice access becomes saturated.

"There's a debate within many mobile carriers: do they simply become a mobile IP connectivity provider, or also seek to ensure ARPU growth by becoming their subscriber's mobile multimedia service provider?," said StJohn Deakins, chief commercial officer for 3ple-Media.

Although text-based promotions that come from a carrier are more likely to get read than those that come from brands, research from Nielsen Buzzmetrics in October 2007 should give marketers pause before they plunge headlong into either text-based advertising or wrapping ad messages around personal or other types of text messages.

Western Europe, which has the highest levels of text messaging usage, also had the lowest level of trust with 12% saying they trusted advertising messages. The next lowest trust figure of 17% came from Asia-Pacific, which happens to be another leading region for text-messaging use.

Making sure such messages come from mobile carriers rather than brands could help improve those numbers, but the offer itself is also key.

The eMarketer Mobile Advertising: After the Growing Pains report will be published this month. Click here to be notified when it is released.


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