Punters Have Caught Up to Dot-Com Advertising Strategies
By Eric Lin, Thu Jun 24 21:00:00 GMT 2004

Dot-Coms tried advertising on mobile devices five years ago -- when mobile penetration was too low and exuberance was too high. Now that most people in Western countries have cell phones and know how to use them, mobile advertising finally taking off.

Back during the dot-com boom, when companies would give away anything and everything, a number of companies were founded for the sole purpose of getting advertisements, usually with an offer for free stuff, to as many people as possible in the most original way possible. A number of companies saw mobile devices, both phones and PDAs, as a perfect platform for delivering advertisements and offers to consumers. AvantGo and UPOC promised to deliver ads as well as content over the air and over the Internet. Companies like WideRay dreamed they would squirt ads and coupons to IR-capable devices from stations at every bus stop and ATM.

The dream didn't come true at the turn of the millenium, but as text messaging finally takes off in America and enjoys overwhelming success elsewhere, companies are finally making a successful go at marketing on mobiles. Tempting users with free content, free advice, or the chance to win free stuff, marketers are luring mobile subscribers into opt-in to receive advertisements on their handsets. The difference this time is that instead of a subscriber opening himself up to all sorts of advertising by signing up for a marketing service, a subscriber enters a one-to-one relationship with the consumer company itself.

Because they can have subscribers reply to messages, advertisers can measure response, and many of the campaigns described are highly successful. This unusual success obviously benefits the companies waging these campaigns, but what about the carriers? Operators certainly are benefitting from the vast number of messages generated by ad campaigns and voting on shows like Pop Idol and Big Brother. However they too are offering their own contests to generate both text messages and brand buzz.

The next step for both carriers and other advertisers is to develop multimedia content that will not just generate a single text (or MMS) charge but which will coax subscribers into forwarding on messages to friends and family. Not only will messages like this generate more charges for the carrier, but they will also generate the highly sought after viral marketing buzz. When everyone's handsets are beeping having received multimedia content from some company, marketers and operators alike will be happy.