I'm working from home this week while my twin boys' day care is closed for the holidays. This morning, as one child screamed about his missing toy and the other demanded a cookie for breakfast, my cell phone rang. Foolishly and without thinking (or looking at the incoming number), I answered it."Hello," started the chipper but obviously recorded voice on the other end, "This is Steve of Blah Blah Carpet Cleaning, and I have a great offer for you that you simply can't pass up." Needless to say, I was in fact able to pass it up, and I flipped the phone shut with as much ferocity as the little device would allow.
Up until recently, cell phones, PDAs, and other mobile devices were one of the few remaining bastions of advertising freedom. We're assaulted by ads just about everywhere else -- TV, radio, magazines and, of course, the Internet. We're even force-fed commercials now before a film starts in the movie theater (as if we haven't paid enough for the experience). A few years ago we all had the opportunity to escape the dreaded telemarketing calls on our landlines when the FTC opened the National Do Not Call Registry. Perhaps naivety or wishful thinking allowed us to believe our cellular devices would escape the clutches of the advertisers. Alas, that's not the case. Marketers are desperate to tap into this resource, pinging you with ads that are suited to your lifestyle, location, etc.
It's technically illegal for telemarketers to call cell phones, but that hasn't stopped some companies from using their automated systems to dial hundreds of numbers. Never mind the annoyance -- the fact is you're losing your valuable minutes from these unsolicited calls. The simplest way to avoid the headaches is to just register your cellular number with the Do Not Call Registry. As for other marketing methods, such as text messaging ads, there's little you can do other than disable your text messaging. You also could try calling your service provider and demand a refund for the number of spam text messages you've received. Whether you'll get compensation depends on them.
Fortunately, there are some scrupulous advertisers who want to tap into the mobile market without angering users and jeopardizing revenue. These companies plan to offer 'opt-ins' so it's your choice whether you receive the ads, and your call when you want them to end. Given this, there are many folks out there actually willing to give advertising on their portables a try.
You can be sure, however, that for every conscientious advertiser out there, there's dozens of mobile-centric spammers with all sorts of nefarious plans to inundate your device.
Have you experienced any mobile-marketing, desired or otherwise? What have you done to deal with it? Share your thoughts below.