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New kinds of ads targeting the iPhone 3G user

July 28, 2008 |  6:00 am

Ad on iPhone 3G Advertisers and cellphones haven't had the greatest marriage so far: Many cellphone users recoil when ads pop up on their most personal device. And for advertisers, the marketing messages lack the richness, screen size and interactivity of the PC.

But that might be changing, whether cellphone users want more ads or not. This week, AdMob, a San Mateo, Calif.-based mobile advertising firm, launched a marketplace for ads on the iPhone 3G that includes such big brands such as Ford, Electronic Arts, Universal Pictures, Land Rover and Jaguar. AdMob's aim: Serve up a new kind of engaging mobile ad that will spur more sales of advertisements targeting mobile phones.

What can the new ads do on the iPhone 3G, Apple's second version of its phone? The ads are more engaging, use more maps and video, and give people more options, said Jason Spero, AdMob's vice president of marketing. The iPhone 3G has GPS built in and can push targeted, location-based advertising to the iPhone user, if asked for by the user.

Do cellphone users want ads, even good ones, on something as intimate as their mobile phone? Many don't. Almost all hate spam. But ads help pay the bills for the companies offering free services and content that can be found on the iPhone. And people are clicking on the ads on their cellphones, 1% to 2% of the times a mobile ad is seen, said Spero. "Mobile people are responding to the ads."

Universal Pictures is promoting its upcoming film "The Mummy" with an iPhone ad that employs the same sort of interactivity one would find on a PC (the ad on the iPhone version of is pictured above). "But it's a step up from what mobile advertising has been," said Doug Neil, Universal Pictures' senior vice president of digital marketing.

Advertising on the mobile Web is where advertising was 10 years ago with the Web itself, Neil said. "We know this device is critical to consumers," he said. "There must be a way to connect with them."

Many advertisers just want to connect with the kind of person who would buy an iPhone.  The first wave of iPhone owners were predominantly young, male and technology-oriented. It's the second wave that has caught advertisers' eyes: the 30-something woman with disposable income.

And since they bought the iPhone, they are more open to seeing mobile ads. "They've bought this device to use the Web on the go," Spero said.

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo: An ad for Universal Pictures' "The Mummy" on the iPhone 3G. Credit: AdMob