CTIA Conference Coverage

Consumers Most Likely to Receive Mobile Ads Don't Respond

Talk at CTIA Conference Fingers Relevancy as the Problem

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- What's clicking with mobile advertising? Apparently not much.
More than half of the mobile-data users who did not respond to ads said they ignored them because they were not interested in the product being advertised.
More than half of the mobile-data users who did not respond to ads said they ignored them because they were not interested in the product being advertised. Credit: AP

A new Nielsen study finds that only 10% of the most likely candidates for mobile advertising -- those using mobile devices for more than just talk, such as accessing the internet, sending text messages, playing video games or buying ringtones -- responded to ads on their mobile phones. Eleven percent viewed the ads and did not respond, and a whopping 79% did not even view the ad.

More relevancy needed
The study, however, did offer marketers some guidelines for what might work in this emerging medium. More than half of the mobile-data users who did not respond to the ads -- some 53% -- said they ignored them because they were not interested in the product being advertised. That appeared to underscore the call from the Mobile Marketing Association and others for relevancy in mobile ads.

While only 17% of respondents said they were concerned about privacy or security, the study showed that still more education was needed before mobile ad views become commonplace even for the most tech-savvy. Eight percent said they didn't understand how to respond to an ad, and 7% blamed slow phone-data connections. Among other reasons given for not responding to ads: Some said they never respond to advertising, and others said they were simply too busy at the time.

Jeff L. Herrmann, VP-wireless and interactive services at Nielsen, said consumers always say no when asked whether they want ads on their mobile phones, but, in an optimistic assessment, he said that's because researchers are asking them the wrong questions. "As you peel back the onion, you see ... many groups welcome advertising," he said.

Overall 67% of mobile-phone customers who use data services found it unacceptable to have ads on their mobile device. But as many as 45% of those watching video on their mobile devices said they would be willing to have advertising in exchange for an unspecified benefit.

Older consumers
During a meeting held yesterday just prior to the start of the CTIA "Marketing the Mobile Channel" conference, Nielsen's Mr. Herrmann said it appeared that wireless subscribers were using their phones to surf the web at night, while Brian Stoller, VP-marketing and strategic development, Third Screen Media, cited the average age of mobile web users was 30-plus, not teens.

Despite the sputters, the mobile-advertising business is still faring well, Mr. Stoller said. In 2005, the average price of a mobile-media deal was $10,000. Last year, it rose to $30,000, he said. So far in 2007, the average price of a mobile-marketing campaign is $100,000, with a couple of deals hitting seven figures, he said.

The CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment Show officially opens today with a keynote from Microsoft Corp.'s Steve Ballmer. Other speakers during the conference, which ends Thursday, include Facebook Co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.
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