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Will consumers embrace ads on cellphones?

September 9, 2008 |  4:28 pm

Ads on phones

Advertising is a funny thing. You say you hate it, but then you end up laughing out loud at that Jack in the Box commercial or humming the McDonald's jingo when you're in the shower (and lovin' it). We've gradually become accustomed to ads on TV, on the Internet and flat-panel TVs in public places. Now analysts say we don't even mind advertising on our cellphones.

Although only about 9% of people agree with the statement that advertising on their cellphones is acceptable, 31% say it's acceptable if it lowers the bill, Paul Kultgen, director of mobile advertising at the Nielsen Co., said during a presentation at Billboard Mobile Entertainment Live in San Francisco today.

"We're at a tipping point," he said. "The best days for mobile ads are in front of us." Advertising has to be relevant, meaningful and creative, he said. If it gives people something of value to them, he said, they're not opposed to it.

A new study out today from Local Mobile Search, an advisory service of Opus Research, backs up ...

... this theory. About 43% of people interviewed said they were amenable to receiving "offers or deals" on their phones from merchants they select.

"This shows a great deal of possibility around mobile advertising," said Greg Sterling, a senior analyst with Local Mobile Search. "A lot of surveys have been done that show that people are just not really interested in mobile advertising. But if you give people assurances that they have some measure of control, then they become much more interested."

Both researchers said that as people become more accustomed to using the mobile Web and to receiving texts and other services on their phones, they become much more open to advertising there. That indicates that as people across the country really begin to get swankier phones and data plans, they'll become less averse to advertising too.

Unless, of course, people don't warm up to advertising as the analysts think they will. There are some places in our lives still free of advertising -- churches, homes, most people's foreheads.

What do you think? Are people really warming up to seeing advertising on their mobile phones?

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: stirwise via Flickr

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