Mobile
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8/20/2009
04:00 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Like It Or Not, Mobile Advertising Is Coming

We are inundated daily with advertising. It is on the morning news, there are billboards on the morning commute and ads on the radio. Then you really get hit when you open your mailbox. Soon, we can expect to get hit on our phones in a big way.

We are inundated daily with advertising. It is on the morning news, there are billboards on the morning commute and ads on the radio. Then you really get hit when you open your mailbox. Soon, we can expect to get hit on our phones in a big way.I've been using either PDAs or smartphones to get online for a decade now, back when it was cool to have a 28.8 modem that clipped on your device. Back then, there were so few mobile web sites you had little choice but to bring down a desktop page, complete with ads that choked your connection. Today, our speeds are faster and our browsers are smarter. Those that buy advertising space on a mobile web site still try to keep the bandwidth consumption down to a minimum to accommodate a wide range of visitors.

You'll also get advertising on your phone via SMS messages and emails. I am scared to death to ever SMS any service to get weather or sports scores for fear my phone number will be harvested and then be used for nefarious purposes by marketers. I've seen advertising in RSS feeds as well. Sometimes it is a separate item in a feed and others it is within an individual post.

Most of what I've mentioned so far though, other than SMS and email spam, is pretty harmless and doesn't materially impact your quest to get information. That is going to change though. The Atlantic has a post about an ad currently running on the New York Times iPhone application. Knowing a bit about the device like its speed, screen size, availability of an accelerometer and the 3G network it is on, it is a pretty feature rich ad. Just about anyone would be tempted to view it at least once.

Jump two years into the future though and there may be so many of these that they become a real hindrance to getting things done. The NYT ad has a "Close Ad" button so you can skip it, but you have to find it first. I noticed it was on the lower left where as most of those buttons seem to be on the upper or lower right. I can see advertisers playing "hide the close button" to get you to stare at the ad longer. Once you find it, even if you spot it immediately, you then have to touch it and wait for whatever it was you wanted to start coming down. That is going to get old quick. It takes the same amount of effort and time to identify spam and hit the delete key.

Be ready for it, because there is too much money to be made in advertising, and it is proven to work. If spam didn't work, spammers wouldn't invest money in servers and bandwidth to spew out those messages. Advertising is what keeps most of the TV shows on the air, and is a huge contributor to magazine and newspaper revenue, often more than your subscription fee. I am sure the same will bear out in the world of mobile internet. You can already hear the gears turning in the heads of marketers as they craft new ways to get you to look at their handiwork on that tiny screen in your pocket.

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