Verizon's Open Network Seen as Boon for Mobile Advertising

But Some Observers Say It Will Only Compound Confusion

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- Verizon called its decision to open its network to all comers a "transformation point in the 20-year history of mass-market wireless devices." Even if it doesn't live up to that billing, marketers and media companies expect it will be a big boon to those who want to see your cellphone become an ad-carrying device.

'Really smart move'
"It's great for advertisers," said Eric Bader, managing director, Band in Hand, a mobile-marketing consultancy whose clients include Procter & Gamble. "Ad buys on Verizon have just exploded to a much bigger universe. It's a really smart move."

Others, like Tony Nethercutt, VP-worldwide sales, AdMob, said an open mobile ecosystem will make it easier for marketers to participate in the new digital platform. It will be "easier for mobile-content and -applications folks, and easier for advertisers to participate," he said.

Verizon, the nation's No. 2 carrier with 63.7 million subscribers, Tuesday announced it will allow any device or any application on its phones. There are caveats, though. All new devices will have to meet a minimal set of technical standards to be determined by Verizon, and device providers will be responsible for testing fees. Also, it's unclear whether other carriers will be opening their doors to any and all comers.

In a statement issued by Verizon Wireless, President-CEO Lowell McAdam called the move "a transformation point in the 20-year history of mass-market wireless devices -- one which we believe will set the table for the next level of innovation and growth."

Huge growth expected
Marketers spent an estimated $3 billion on mobile marketing this year with projections of growth to $19 billion in 2011, according to ABI research.

Not everyone is in agreement on how much the Verizon decision will propel mobile marketing, however. Roger Entner, senior VP-communications sector at IAG Research, said one of the things stifling advertising on mobile phones is actually the multitude of phones and applications on the market, requiring numerous permeations of every campaign for different devices on different carriers. Verizon's decision may compound the problem. "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it," he cautioned.
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