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Posts Tagged ‘Mobile’

Advertisers to Consumers: We’ll Text You

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 27, 2008

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Cellphone Messages
Find a Mobile Niche;
Customers Ask for It
May 27, 2008; Page B4

Analysts like to make bold predictions about the growth of mobile advertising. Most have overshot reality.

But at least one slice of the business appears to be catching on, according to marketers: ads sent via text message. A growing number of companies are using cellphone text messages to lend more interactivity to their ads. For instance, Coors Brewing’s Coors Light beer recently added a text-message component to its traditional sponsorship of the NFL Draft. Football fans opted to receive draft alerts, and each message contained a squib about Coors Light.


Some marketers like text-message ads because — unlike most ads — viewers asks to receive the message, which means the marketer doesn’t bombard the viewer with unsolicited commercials. The potential audience is also attractive: Almost all cellphones can send and receive text messages. Finally, marketers say, the results of text-message ads are much easier to measure than those of mobile Web ads.

On Tuesday, Silicon Valley start-up 4INFO, one of the most-active players in text-message advertising, plans to announce a new trial partnership with Yahoo. Under the arrangement, 4INFO provides the technology for Yahoo to publish its content, such as news updates, horoscopes, sports scores and weather forecasts, via text messages that also contain a small ad. Consumers sign up online to receive the alerts.

Yahoo can sell the ads alone or as part of a broader online-mobile ad package, or, alternatively, 4INFO can sell the ads through its mobile-ad network.

Ad executives report click-through rates with text-message ads of 1% to 10%, a significant jump from the figures for Web banner ads, which are typically only a fraction of that.

Those higher rates, of course, could be attributable simply to the newness of text-message advertising. And, for marketers that do text-message marketing, there are challenges. One is limited space. Of the 160 characters allowed in a text message, typically 120 are reserved for content, which leaves only 40 for the ad. Often, the message is simple: “Sponsored by The All-New Toyota Corolla” was the tag line for a recent campaign with IAC/InterActiveCorp’s online invitation service Evite.

Mobile-message advertising is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2008, up 82% from last year, according to research firm eMarketer. Spending on mobile-message advertising now accounts for about 88% of the total $1.7 billion spent on mobile ads, which also includes search ads and display ads as well as mobile Web advertising.

On top of its new pact with Yahoo, 4INFO, founded in 2004 by Zaw Thet, now 27 years old, has struck similar deals with big media companies from General Electric‘s NBC Universal to IAC and newspaper company Gannett, which owns a stake in the company. 4INFO, which says it reaches eight million unique visitors a month, usually splits the ad revenue with the media company 60-40, with the majority going to whichever party makes the sale.

With these ads, a phone number to text is typically embedded in a print or TV ad. Consumers send a text message to that number to receive the content, which is sponsored by a marketer.

“A newspaper is produced once daily. With the text messages you can layer in interactivity, whether it be stock quotes, sports scores or updated weather,” says Matt Jones, director of mobile strategy for Gannett.

Among the marketers that Gannett has sold ads to are Marriott, which recently sponsored a print-and-mobile ad combination in USA Today, and Radio Shack, which is sponsoring free sports alerts from the paper’s Web site.

Other companies that compete in text-message advertising include YellowPepper and HipCricket. Like 4INFO, HipCricket has focused on bringing new life to old media through mobile ads. HipCricket works with radio and TV stations to create programs like mobile loyalty clubs for listeners to join. Then, both the radio stations and its advertisers market to this group via their phones.

Using text messages to deliver ads isn’t completely new. A company called Screenvision, which uses text messaging along with commercials on movie screens, launched its network in 2005. Since then, it has expanded its approach. Starting early next month, Screenvision, whose advertising network is made up of more than 14,000 screens in 2,300 theaters, will test a live-polling feature that is activated by text messages. Audiences will be polled on music, movies or other entertainment-related topics, and then can vote. The results will be immediately tabulated and flashed up on the screen.

Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group, is the first sponsor of the polling service. The campaign includes a two-minute original film (“VCast Street”) directed by Spike Lee, and VCast-branded popcorn bags.

Write to Emily Steel at


Posted in Ad Products, Local, Mobile, Multi-Channel, Traditional to Online, Widgets/Distributed Content | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Firms Gauge Which Mobile Tools Connect

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 11, 2008

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New Software Aims
To Provide Better Data
On Consumers’ Habits
May 9, 2008; Page B6

Marketing via cellphones is forecast to be one of the next hot trends, but many advertisers are still hesitant to empty their pockets on mobile-ad campaigns. One reason: There isn’t yet a reliable source of data that show what Web sites and features consumers are accessing on their mobile devices.

Measurement firms such as Nielsen and M:Metrics, which have relied mainly on monthly consumer surveys to gather such information, are developing electronic tracking methods that aim to provide more specific and accurate information. Nielsen, which helped pioneer the “People Meter” for television, is developing electronic metering software for mobile devices. The software, which will be installed on some users’ handsets beginning later this year, will track everything from the number of text messages they send per month to the Web sites they visit and videos they watch.

Another company, comScore, which specializes in tracking Web usage on personal computers, is working on similar technology for cellphones that it expects to launch in the second half of this year.

The tracking companies are running into some roadblocks, mainly because there are so many different types of mobile devices and operating systems, and because a small number of wireless operators such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless play such a central role in controlling Web traffic and determining which software gets into handsets. It is another example of how hard it can be to roll out any kind of wireless service — whether it is a videogame, a location-sharing application, or a tool to track usage of the handset itself.

M:Metrics, for example, hasn’t been able to put its software into a large enough cross-section of phones to make the information significantly valuable to advertisers, who generally want data on all cellphone users. So far, the software works only on high-end smart-phones, which account for just 12% of the market.

“If you think about advertisers, they don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘I just want to reach people on BlackBerrys or Nokias.’ They want to reach all phones,” says M:Metrics Chief Executive Will Hodgman. Nielsen and comScore also acknowledge it will be difficult to make the software work on lower-end phones, because their basic operating systems make it harder to gather usage information.

Nielsen and others are working with Web publishers to try to get them to tag their content with code that alerts the tracking firms whenever their site is visited. Nielsen says it has rolled that out with a handful of U.S. mobile Web sites and several in Europe and Asia.

Mr. Hodgman of M:Metrics says he is focusing most of his efforts on persuading wireless carriers to provide information from their server logs on which sites and features users have accessed. While there is some momentum for that approach in the industry, carriers haven’t agreed to provide that data to an independent third party, he said, because of concerns about user privacy and other issues. An AT&T spokesman said the carrier doesn’t share such data and doesn’t plan to.

Until now, Nielsen and others have relied mainly on monthly survey data to gauge what features consumers are interested in. (Nielsen also collects data from user phone bills.) Such surveys aren’t always reliable because they sometimes don’t tap a broad enough sample of users and handsets. In other cases, consumers unwittingly answer questions incorrectly. Marketers say it is crucial that they get more detailed and accurate information about Web usage as they plan campaigns and try to track their effectiveness. “I’m a little bit lost [in mobile marketing] because I can’t get a lot of information,” says Chris Murphy, director of digital marketing for Adidas‘s U.S. region.

The company has run banner ads on mobile Web sites and some text-message campaigns through Isobar, an ad agency that is a unit of Aegis Group. As with other big marketers, Adidas still isn’t doing mobile ad campaigns on the same scale that it markets on the Web. There are other reasons marketers are cautious about plunging into mobile, including concerns about annoying users who would view cellphone ads as an invasion of privacy.

There are some tools available to help individual mobile Web publishers track who is visiting their sites so they can attract more advertising. Bango says its new mobile-analytics service, which keeps track of unique visitors and gathers demographic data on users, is being used by 2,000 Web sites so far. Omar Hamoui, the chief executive of AdMob, another company offering mobile analytics, says there is still a pressing need for aggregate data from an independent firm. “What’s still missing and is in some ways more important is independent third-party measurement of mobile Web activity,” Mr. Hamoui says.

Even with the new forms of electronic measurement, consumer surveys will still be useful for gauging consumer attitudes on such matters as privacy, pricing of services and interest in yet-to-be-launched products, the measurement companies say. “Ten years from now there will be surveys and electronic measurement coexisting,” says Jesse Goranson, senior vice president of mobile media at Nielsen. “It’s important to understand consumer perception in addition to the actual behavior.”

–Stephanie Kang contributed to this article.


Write to Amol Sharma at

Posted in Ad Products, Ad Spending, Ad/Behaviroral Targeting, Brand Advertising, Consumer Behavior, Data & Metrics, Demos & Audiences, Marketplace Trends, Mobile, Research | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Viewing Your Sites on Handsets in a Flash

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 3, 2008

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May 2, 2008; Page B8

Surfing the Web on cellphones is a major headache. Despite advances in recent years, many sites don’t load properly, and multimedia content often doesn’t play. Now, the wireless industry is trying to radically improve mobile Web browsing by making it as much like the PC experience as possible.

In a step in that direction, several major handset makers said Thursday they have struck an agreement with Adobe Systems Inc. to bring its Flash multimedia player to more cellphones. Flash powers online video on sites like YouTube and is used to develop Web pages with animation and other advanced features.

Adobe says Flash is available on 98% of Web-enabled desktop computers but only 30% of cellphones. One prominent holdout is Apple Inc., which doesn’t offer Flash on its iPhone device. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs has resisted Adobe’s efforts to include the software, saying he wasn’t satisfied with how it worked on the iPhone.

“Flash video is the most-popular form of video on the Internet today; it’s really important to be able to bring that to mobile,” said Gary Kovacs, vice president of product management and marketing for Adobe’s mobile-devices unit.

About 14% of U.S. cellphone users accessed the Web at least once in February, according to M:Metrics Inc., which tracks wireless-industry trends. Slow wireless networks and confusing rate plans are part of the problem. One of the biggest remaining roadblocks is the clumsy presentation of Web content on a phone. While some sites, such as the Weather Channel and MTV, have mobile-only versions, most don’t.

Adobe’s agreement with cellphone makers Sony Ericsson, Nokia Corp., LG Electronics Inc., and Motorola Inc. is part of a broader move by industry players to improve the mobile Web browsing experience. Sony Ericsson is a joint venture of Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson and Sony Corp.

Wireless carriers such as Sprint Nextel Corp. and Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA Inc. are preloading advanced Web browsers from companies such as Opera Software ASA of Norway, Teleca AB of Sweden and Google Inc. into handsets. Among other features, the browsers are good at reformatting Web pages designed for PCs to make them viewable on phones with 2.5-inch screens. Carriers are also integrating technologies from companies such as Openwave Systems Inc. that decipher content from PC Web pages for multiple browsers and cellphones.

Wireless carriers have a huge stake in jump-starting mobile Web browsing. As their revenues from basic voice service decline, they are relying increasingly on advanced Web and multimedia services to power their growth. T-Mobile USA’s chief technology officer, Cole Brodman, says industry plans to sell mobile advertising and digital content depend on getting more users to browse the Web.

“Carriers and their partners need to solve the problem of mobile Web adoption before any of these business models make any sense at all,” Mr. Brodman says.

Browsers are one major focus. While some mobile devices, such as Apple’s iPhone, come with advanced PC-like browsers, most don’t. Consumers can download high-end browsers onto some handsets, but carriers believe they can increase usage dramatically by preloading the software.

Sprint recently began loading Teleca’s browser in Samsung Electronics Inc.’s Instinct, a sleek iPhone look-alike the carrier announced last month. The phone, which will be available in June, is able to display regular HTML pages. T-Mobile is planning to come out this year with the first phone using Google’s Android cellphone operating platform, which includes a Web browser intended for the mass market. T-Mobile already includes the Opera browser and the NetFront browser made by Access Co. Ltd. of Japan in some of its high-end phones, and it plans to extend such browsers further into its lineup.

Making video from Web sites work on cellphones is widely seen as a crucial component of the new shift. Adobe’s wider distribution of Flash is one significant step. As part of Thursday’s deal, Adobe is dropping its traditional licensing fees and making changes to its technology that simplify its integration into mobile phones.

Other partners in the initiative include content providers such as General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal and carriers such as Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC. Adobe says it is pursuing other efforts to enable Flash on the iPhone.

Other video formats for the Web are likely to turn up in U.S. cellphones. Montreal-based start-up Vantrix, for instance, offers a technology that carriers can plug into their networks to make popular Web-based video formats viewable on phones. The company says it has signed up carriers such as NTT DoCoMo and France Telecom‘s Orange SA and is pursuing U.S. carriers.

Silicon Valley start-up Skyfire Labs Inc. is rolling out a browser that essentially accomplishes the same task, making videos on and other sites viewable, while rendering Web sites as much like the PC versions as possible.

The new technologies have some limitations. Many basic cellphones don’t have enough memory or processing power to support them. And some of the tools can unintentionally load a PC Web page even when a better mobile-only version exists.

Mark Collins, vice president of consumer data at AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. wireless carrier by subscribers, says the company is evaluating several technologies to bring better Web access to its mass-market handset lineup beyond the iPhone. “We’re in an in-between phase right now, given the current limitations on devices and technology and the software solutions that are available,” Mr. Collins says.

Some in the industry say cellphones won’t ever truly be able to duplicate the PC Web, regardless of how fancy browsers and other technologies get. T-Mobile’s Mr. Brodman says some Web services that are packed with content and features, like MySpace and Facebook, are best offered as specialized software applications that consumers can download. Both social networking sites offer mobile software that is available on select devices.

Write to Amol Sharma at

Posted in Ad Products, Data & Metrics, Marketplace Trends, Mobile, Multi-Channel, Online Video News, Research, Social Media, Television & Video | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Mobile Analytics Firms Seek In-Roads

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 3, 2008

Article Source:L

Mobile handheld devices may render the same Web pages as those found on personal computers, but measurement is another story. Traditional Web analytics vendors have limited ability to track mobile, opening the door for mobile-specific vendors to offer services.

In mobile, analytics providers have emerged in niche categories. The landscape is comprised of vendors including Amethon, Bango, Mobilytics, and TigTags. Mobile ad network AdMob is the latest to come to market with AdMob Mobile Analytics, a free service for mobile site owners to track: unique users, duration of visits, page performance, and insight into geography, carrier, and device specifics.

“The world after the click has been pretty opaque and there have been no tools to champion ROI,” said Jason Spero, VP of marketing at AdMob. The ad network doesn’t require publishers and advertisers to be clients to use the analytics. “We’re offering analytics for free as a catalyst for the mobile Web. If advertisers can better measure and manage their campaigns, they will be even more comfortable with the mobile medium,” he said.

AdMob most closely competes with Bango Analytics, which was released earlier this year. The service is offered for free in a light version, while clients can pay for a version with more features. Bango works on publisher sites and transactional mobile entities such as ringtone and wallpaper providers.

Mobilytics provides analytics for smaller publishers, and supports an ad network for a bulk of its users. TigTags’ competency is in location-based usage. The company is also doing work with 2D barcodes (define), which could become more important as adoption grows in the future.

Another competitor in the mobile analytics space is Amethon, which serves larger-scale publishers primarily because it requires a dedicated server.

Differences between the Web and mobile demand special requirements for the wireless Internet. “You can tag individual visitors by using cookies or identifiable information,” said Dean Collins, USA business development at Amethon. He said there is a dispute over how many handsets are cookie-compliant versus storing data at the carrier level. It’s possible to build a unique ID with handset information.

Information, however, gets recycled on a regular basis, typically every 30 days. “It’s not accurate to keep that information beyond a 30-day period,” Collins said.

Beyond building unique identification numbers for users, there are several issues for vendors to work through. Web analytics vendors have used several methods over the years, including page tagging and JavaScript, to track metrics such as unique visitors and time spent on a page. On mobile handsets, mobile browsers aren’t capable of the same functionality. A small portion are able to run JavaScript, and those that are, aren’t able to handle a heavy enough load.

AdMob and Mobilytics use code or tags on the site to apply analytics. Amethon insists on a dedicated server because it uses packet sniffing, a method for tracking behaviors without adding extra code to a site. The advantage is that it doesn’t add weight to the site. “Fifty percent of what you’re downloading to the browser was page tagging. For us there’s no page tagging, we don’t add anything to the Web site,” said Collins.

While waiting for separate solutions to come out, many ad networks have built their own. Bango and AdMob are examples, as their analytics offerings are products of measurement tools built to support their businesses. Mobile ad network Ringleader Digital also created a reporting system for its publishers and advertisers to measure usage and results on its network.

Posted in Mobile, Research | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Mobile Search on Cusp of Explosion?

Posted by Mort Greenberg on May 1, 2008

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By Judy Mottl
April 29, 2008

Five years from now search will be a key application for one third of the globe’s mobile device users, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Of the expected 4.2 billion owners of mobile devices expected by 2013, roughly 1.3 billion will depend on mobile device searches to find and locate “local” digital information. Most searches will happen in North America and Western Europe as the countries boast good local digital information suppliers (think yellow and white pages) as well as mapping data with good coverage of points of interest, according to the report.

The trend bodes well for Web search firms. For advertising boutiques and marketers looking for signs of the mobile search market’s growth, the report could be manna. Of course, all these growth expectations are built on a good user experience, the firm noted.

Search engine companies and online service providers are already making serious moves in anticipation. Yahoo and AOL are just two that recently announced initiatives tied to mobile device applications and development programs.

Total mobile search revenues are predicted to reach $4.8 billion by 2013 though Juniper warns of potential “advertising overload” that could act as a disincentive and ultimately limit adoption. That, in addition to continuing public concern about the use of online personal data, could impact mobile search adoption as well.

One trend propelling mobile search is the growth of the handheld marketplace. Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts 290 million mobile handsets will be sold this quarter, an increase of 12 percent compared to the second quarter of 2007.

“Mobile broadband development and the gradual reduction in data costs has encouraged a greater proportion of mobile users to surf the mobile Internet, as has the breakdown of operator “walled gardens,” John Levett, Juniper’s marketing and business development executive, told In addition, an increasing operator and vendor focus on ease of service usage has stimulated growth.

“The increased interest in mobile advertising, combined with a greater degree of Mobile Web 2.0 activity, are also factors encouraging adoption,” Levett added.

While adoption will be mostly in Western Europe and North America, Juniper said the demographics could change as network connectivity expands.

“We will see a marked increase in adoption in many developing markets where the fixed broadband infrastructure is limited and mobile becomes the de facto means of accessing the Internet.”


Posted in Mobile, Search Marketing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Take a Picture of an Ad, Earn a Reward

Posted by Mort Greenberg on April 28, 2008

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April 28, 2008



Two men’s magazines are trying to engage their readers more — by increasing their cellphone bills.

Rolling Stone and Men’s Health are both testing programs in which readers can take cameraphone pictures of icons on ads, then send them to a certain number. In exchange, they’ll receive more information or an offer from the advertiser.

In Rolling Stone’s current issue, five advertisers are running these offers. They include a motorcycle ring tone for Allstate’s motorcycle-insurance program and a video preview of The Discovery Channel’s new season of “Man vs. Wild.” Men’s Health is going even further, saying each full-page advertisement in its July-August issue will have the added feature.

An image-recognition company called SnapTell is behind both magazines’ efforts. Technology from the company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., can differentiate the icon on one advertisement from that on another and text back the appropriate offer.

For the magazines, it’s a way to make print products interactive.

“We’ve got a product made of paper and ink sent out every two weeks,” said Ray Chelstowski, the publisher of Rolling Stone. “We’re always in the market to find other ways that we can work with our advertisers in providing empirical data in showing how readers engage and interact with our ads.”

Although advertisers could use the readers’ cellphone information to do further marketing, some said that was not the plan. “We will have some cellphone data, and if they opt in to receive something from Discovery, we can obviously send something back to them,” said Brad Feinberg, director of media planning for Discovery Communications, but “the purpose of this really isn’t to collect data per se as it is to give the readers some value.”

For the advertisers, the effort is low-risk. Neither Rolling Stone, published by Wenner Media, or Men’s Health, published by Rodale, is charging advertisers extra for the feature. SnapTell, too, is charging the publishers only a promotional price, “but the end business model here is we hope the magazines convince their advertisers to pay a little more for this extra feature, and we would then participate in the upside of the revenues,” said SnapTell’s chief executive, Gautam Bhargava.

Advertisers said they were happy to give it a whirl, especially given the cheap price tag, even if they did not see an overwhelming response.

“There really aren’t any benchmarks yet, and we are a test-and-learn company,” said Lisa Cochrane, vice president of marketing for Allstate. “It’s cool, it’s innovative and it’s not a really big risk to us because there’s no additional cost.” STEPHANIE CLIFFORD


Posted in Ad Products, Ad Spending, Ad/Behaviroral Targeting, Demos & Audiences, Digital Out of Home, Local, Marketplace Trends, Mobile | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Real Threat to Google

Posted by Mort Greenberg on April 28, 2008

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As more consumers browse the Web on their cell phones, the No. 1 search engine must cope with less space to place ads

Google’s biggest threat may not be Microsoft (MSFT) or Yahoo! (YHOO).

No, one of the most formidable challenges facing Google (GOOG) is likely sitting in your pocket or purse. It’s your cell phone, and it will put added pressure on Google and other Internet companies to revamp the way they handle online marketing.

As more people use cell phones and their tiny glass screens to gain access to the Internet, Google and its fellow online advertisers will have less space, or what’s called ad inventory, to place marketing messages for customers. Google makes money selling ad inventory. And its ad inventory is diminished on a cell phone.

iPhone as Tipping Point

Google can now fit about 10 ads on a standard computer screen. (If you look at Google search results on a PC monitor, paid ads are the listings at the very top and along the right.) But on your cell phone, if you type in a search query at you get only one or two paid ads in response.

Imagine the horror that would befall your business if a large slice of what you sell suddenly disappeared. A similar fate could befall companies that depend on online advertising, as small screens become the gateway to the Internet.

Of course, no one’s suggesting that consumers will abandon standard computer screens overnight. And early research shows that mobile advertising may be more effective than standard online advertising, suggesting that it will be more lucrative for the companies that rely on it. Still, the shift is coming fast enough that Google must get prepared.

It was Apple (AAPL), a frequent Google collaborator, that tipped the trend. Consumer use of mobile Internet in the U.S. has longed trailed Asia and Europe, where standardized cell networks made it easier for handset makers to produce gadgets that tap the Web at blazingly fast speeds. But in the summer of 2007, Apple rocked America by launching the iPhone. The computer maker wasn’t the first to put the Web on phones, but for many consumers, the iPhone made the experience more robust.

Almost two-thirds of Americans have had some experience with mobile Internet use, and the adoption trend is most pronounced among teens and young adults, according to Pew Research Center. About 60% of adults 18 to 29 use text messaging every day, compared with only 14% of their parents. Nearly one-third of young adults use mobile Internet. This is the future, because people take their media habits with them as they age.

Why Google Wants In on Cell Phones

So, as Apple and demographic trends thrust the mobile Internet upon us, how will advertisers and we consumers of electronics respond?

Google will try to expand ad “shelf space,” especially by redesigning cell-phone software. In November, Google announced it was launching an Open Handset Alliance to design a new operating system, code-named Android, which would provide a “truly open and comprehensive platform” for cell-phone users. A few scratched their heads as to why Google would get into the cell-phone interface business. But now it’s clear; Web screens will soon be two inches wide, and Google wants a say in what fits on that tiny screen.

Our bet is that the new Android interface will encourage mobile device users to flick through multiple layers or pages, similar to the iPhone album-art menu. This will create more room for ads. Expanding the visual ad inventory will be crucial for Google, as evidenced by the recent announcement that it will begin selling small display ads on cell-phone screens.


Another implication is that consumers may have to start paying for “free” stuff. Sure, there’s a lot that’s free on the Web now, as many, including Chris Anderson of Wired, have noted. Yet, even Anderson notes that most “free” content models really just transfer the hidden cost from you to third-party advertisers, who subsidize your content in hopes of getting attention. If online social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or Digg can’t figure out ways to entice money from advertisers, they’ll have to grab it from you.

More Personal Ads on the Way

Our hunch is that free content systems may stick to the big Web pages, where more ads can fit. For tiny screens, systems such as Twitter that work well in small detail will eventually have to charge, make money some other way, or go away. Consumers push back on paying for something that is already free, so the only solution we see is to keep ads very minimal—and very personal.

Which brings us to one of the biggest implications of wider use of the mobile Web. Advertisers will increasingly rely on personalization. Today, collections of Web sites known as ad networks track consumer behavior across multiple sites, and then shoot targeted ads to users. This behavioral targeting approach, found via WPP Group’s (WPPGY) 24/7 Real Media, Blue Lithium, Tremor Media, and other Web networks, often results in ad response rates 5 to 10 times higher than standard banner ads.

Personalization works, and several companies are working on ways to make it work better. Microsoft recently filed a patent application that would use offline data such as credit-card transactions, estimated physical location (from cell-phone towers), and TV viewing habits to serve you a customized ad the next time you go online. The fact that you bought cleats for your kids this morning, went to a high school football game in the afternoon, and turned on ESPN when you got home would conceivably trigger a personalized sports ad on your cell phone.

Better Marketing Through Profiling

ComScore (SCOR), the Web site ranking service, is taking a different approach, using “biometric signature” profiling to match the keystrokes and mouse-click patterns of different users on a single computer. The idea here is to get beyond the gadget to the individual user who touches it. The system can identify whether Dad or Mom or Sis is sitting at the keyboard, and then match the individual user with a rich profile of demographic data to improve ad targeting.

Pondering all this, we called Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to see what concerns privacy groups might have about a future where marketers track your every move. “Personalization is actually a great idea,” Rotenberg said, “but it should be done in a way that doesn’t require detailed data collection” about an individual.

It’s a nice hope, Rotenberg’s, that advertising and Google can survive in a world where the ways to reach consumers via glass screens grow smaller and smaller. But we suspect hyperintrusive data profiling is coming fast.

After all, Internet screens will soon be a lot smaller. And no one as rich or as smart as Google gives up so crucial a slice of sales without fighting back.

Kunz is director of strategic planning for Mediassociates, a media planning firm.

Posted in Ad Spending, Ad/Behaviroral Targeting, Consumer Behavior, Mobile | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »