Maybe the industry is asking less because it doesn't want to know the answer. The most recent Nielsen Mobile data study from fourth quarter 2007 indicates that only 10% of mobile-phone users think the placement of ads on their mobile device is acceptable. The flipside, of course, is that 90% feel it's not.
There was one glimmer of light in the report, however: 37% of men and 28% of women are interested in ads if they lower their bills. But a number of conference speakers indicated the costs of providing higher-end multimedia services couldn't significantly subsidize a consumer's cell bill. And in what could be seen as a touch of irony or a foreshadowing of the future of mobile advertising, the conference's gala consisted of a performance of the Broadway show "Spamalot."
Then he mentioned a new venture between Virgin and Google, Virgle, a modern-day Noah's Ark that will send an expedition of ordinary humans, animals and seeds into space to establish a city on Mars. The audience played the April's fool well, with more than four dozen walking onto the stage to volunteer to be considered for the one-way ticket he promised to the red planet. Mobile CMO Bob Stohrer was not one of them. "I knew it was a hoax," he said.
Yet it was staid Nokia that took matters to new heights that same day. The carrier placed a crane in a parking lot outside the convention center. Attached to it was a large disk with a conference table of sorts and jump seats situated along the outside. (Think carnival flying saucer ride.) With reporters' feet dangling but notebooks firmly strapped in, the mobile press conference rose 180 feet above the Vegas skyline to hear about Nokia's N10 WiMax device. Everyone returned to Earth safely and no injuries were reported.
In a late-night news conference in the Hugh Hefner suite at the Palms, Tom Hagopian, exec VP-digital media, Playboy Media Group, unveiled what he called the second generation of Playboy mobile, moving from sales of wallpapers, logos and photos to a new site loaded with interactivity, video and community. He expects marketers such as Axe, which advertise on other Playboy properties, to buy the brand's mobile offering. Playboy even has developed an iPhone-specific enhanced mobile website.
The conference also was used to introduce finalists in the first Miss Playboy Mobile contest and party. The suite, some 9,000 square feet, is not actually Hugh Hefner's, but rather a $40,000-a-night pad with a clear-walled swimming pool that juts out about 10 feet over the edge of the skyscraper. It includes a requisite circular bed reflected in a ceiling mirror as well as a collection of classic Playboy "art" such as a circa-1950 photo of Marilyn Monroe, who appeared on the first Playboy cover.