Taking The Advertising Out Of The Mobile Advertising Industry
By Mike Masnick, Wed Dec 08 19:30:00 GMT 2004

While mobile advertising appears to be moving in the direction of being interactive, rather than intrusive, there's still one big step needed. Advertisers need to stop thinking of mobile advertising as advertising.

There's been a lot of talk about the mobile advertising industry lately, and plenty of advertisers are trying to figure out where they fit in. Everyone knows that mobile phones are very popular -- especially with the demographic groups that advertisers obsess over -- but figuring out just how to get the right message across has been a struggle. First, they thought it would be as simple as spamming mobile phones, but advertisers are realizing that it's impossible to have a captive audience that way. More recent efforts have taken into account that the mobile environment is different, but still seem a bit confused over the purpose of mobile advertising.

In an article for ZDNet Australia, James Pearce predicts an age where people will want advertising on their mobile phones. The advertising will be designed to get subscribers to be proactive and request the content. Others have come to similar conclusions in the past, and a few creative campaigns have successfully put this into practice.

However, this "pull vs. push" approach is still such a different beast for most advertisers that it's going to hinder their approach to figuring out how to advertise in the mobile realm. Advertising, to many, simply means getting your message in front of people -- no matter how intrusive that may be. In a world where captive audiences no longer exist, the entire concept of advertising may need to change to one where it's not so much "advertising" as it is sponsored or subsidized content. Despite the initial claim of the ZDNet article, no one goes looking for advertising. They go looking for content that is useful, interesting or amusing to them.

When that content is considered advertising there's a feeling that it has to be pushy -- and pushy doesn't cut it any more. Instead, it has to be viewed specifically as content first and foremost. Then, it's possible to sponsor or support that content in a way that builds brand or promotes a business, product or service. The real trick, though, is to forget that it's advertising -- or users will forget about the advertisement.