Cell phone marketing on the rise

With close to 75% of Americans currently using a cell phone on a daily basis (and with projections of 95% by the end of 2010), the cell phone has become a prominent fixture in our lives, right up there with our keys and wallets. But unlike our keys and wallets, cell phones are much more dynamic, creating viable marketing opportunities in the process.

Approximately 58% of mobile phone subscribers use their device for non-voice functions such as sending text messages, using photo messaging and browsing news and information. It is from these latest technologies that “mobile marketing” has risen.

Three factors have helped lead this explosion of mobile media:

  1. Mobile phone companies see adding advertising as a way to combat their declining revenue from competitive voice calling plans
  2. Marketers are intrigued by the targetability of mobile phone advertising
  3. Consumer response to purchasing paid content without advertising has been disappointing leading many companies to explore offering free, advertising-supported content to attract larger audiences

There are also video opportunities (either streaming or pre-roll) on mobile devices, but these currently provide very limited reach as only 2% of mobile phone users watch mobile television or video clips. But, video opportunities are rising rapidly. Subscribers to mobile television have already increased 45% from first quarter 2006 to second quarter 2006 with expectations for this growth rate to continue.

Mobile search advertising opportunities are expected to get a boost with several major internet companies such as Yahoo!, Google and Citysearch preparing to launch new services that would include text ads within search results.

According to Business Week, 12% of U.S. advertisers spent money on mobile marketing in 2005, to the tune of $104 million. eMarketer is predicting that by the end of 2006, 20% of advertisers will use some type of mobile marketing with spending reaching $602 million by 2009.

Bottom line, mobile phone advertising is currently in its infancy but is expected to grow rapidly over the next couple of years as mobile phone companies, internet companies and media publishers determine the best way to incorporate advertising into their models. Most likely, if you have incorporated an internet advertising strategy, you will need to consider incorporating a mobile advertising strategy as well.

– Cort Gorman