Does anyone really want to get advertising on their mobile phones? The mobile industry certainly hopes so, and is banking on ads as a big source of revenue in the years to come. Trouble is, mobiles are such personal devices, that if advertising is done badly, it’ll just be seen as intrusive spam.
It’s a dilemma, and one that was discussed today at the MEX conference in London. And the conclusion? Us consumers will be happy to have adverts on our phones, as long as they’re relevant to us, don’t get in the way of whatever content or application we’re using, and if they allow operators to provide other cool stuff for free.
Jim Souders from Action Engine talked about some focus groups the company has run to investigate consumer attitudes, and pointed out that people are comfortable with the idea of watching TV shows or browsing websites for free because they come with adverts, so why should mobile be any different.
However, he also said that this doesn’t just mean streaming TV ads to your phone, or having web-style pop-ups appear when you’re using a mobile application. Instead, they’ve got to be optimised for the strengths and weaknesses of mobile – whether they’re text messages, banner adverts, video ads or paid-for search results.
“For example, for a video advertisement, the optimum length is 7-10 seconds,” said Souders. “People won’t be watching 30-minute shows on their mobile, they’re watching shows or clips in minutes, so 30-second commercials won’t work.”
Of course, there’s plenty of other problems for the industry to solve before us punters will accept mobile ads. For starters, we don’t want to pay for them, which includes data charges to download or access advertising content.
Reassuringly, everyone involved in the MEX debate seemed to agree that mobile users won’t put up with spam or poorly-targeted advertising. However, with no mobile operators or advertising agencies taking part in this particular debate, it still remains to be seen if these noble sentiments will translate into actions.