Wireless Ads: Effective Or Intrusive?



Since September, 1,000 volunteers in Boulder, Colo., haveparticipated in a market study by wireless marketing technology maker SkyGo Inc. Consumers received free Web- enabled mobile phones, with the understanding that at least three advertisements would be transmitted to the devices daily, and they would have to participate in surveys. While SkyGo and advertisers say the program has been a success, numbers indicate there may not be as much enthusiasm on the receiving end.

"When we first talked to consumers and analysts about advertising to wireless, they immediately cringed, thinking it would be intrusive," SkyGo CEO Daren Tsui says. "But 60% of participants said they found wireless advertisements valuable." However, only 27% of those participants, or 162 of 600 users, say they would likely switch wireless service providers to receive ads in the future.

This week, the company will release a report that says more than 90% of the study's participants found it easy to view and navigate the ads sent to them, and 65% have used the phone to browse the Web. Local and national advertisements were delivered via SkyGo's messaging platform, targeting consumers based on their personal profiles. Most successful were the ads that embedded a Wireless Application Protocol link or a phone number that an interested consumer could activate by pushing a button or using a voice-activated response system.

Johnny Halberstadt, co-owner of sneaker seller Boulder Running Co., says the program has been a good source of new business for his company. But he admits he joined the program with some skepticism. "The biggest barrier in my mind as a retailer is that I don't want people to think I'm bugging them all the time, and that may be one of the biggest hurdles SkyGo has to cover." But once the initial backlash subsides, he says he believes the response from customers and retailers will be positive.

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