Friday, 29 June 2007

Consumer attitudes to mobile phone advertising

A survey published in the US this week shows that, despite the big opportunities currently being forecast for mobile advertising, there is still plenty of negative attitudes to these in the minds of consumers, so that advertisers will need to tread warily.

The research was undertaken by Harris Interactive for Ingenio and surveyed around 4,000 mobile phone users. It found that most consumers were ambivalent about ad-supported content and services on their mobiles but some types of advertising received more negative attitudes than direct advertising, such as promotional adverts when the phone was turned on, were deemed "not acceptable at all" by the majority of respondents.

From a range of different mobile adverts that were being assessed, search links came out as the most popular, with 33% finding them "somewhat" or "very" acceptable. However, a video clip from a nearby retail store did not do so well, with 84% saying that the tactic was unacceptable. Other forms of advertising that were surveyed included text messages from companies, voice mail messages from a celebrity or spokesperson and audio ads that play while a call is connected.

These results need to be studied by companies and agencies that are developing mobile advertising campaigns, although much of the negative response probably comes from unfamiliarity with this form of advertising and the way phones are currently being used. Only 30% of respondents said they had seen or heard ads on their phones and less than half claim to use their mobiles for anything more than calling.

As with all advertising, relevancy will be important to make advertising acceptable to mobile phone users. What is clear from these results is that advertisers will also need to plan carefully to avoid a negative backlash from advertising that is perceived to be intrusive on a very personal level.

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