Yes but, no but

Richard M Marshall, CEO of Rapid Mobile, offers advice on how to overcome the objections to mobile advertising


Richard_marshall_ceo_rapid_mobileFunny how everybody objects to the notion of mobile advertising, yet the vast majority of people have never seen any. Its curious to see how advertising can still trigger such strong reactions when we are so steeped in it.
I wasnt born when commercial television was launched, but I do remember when the first commercial local radio station appeared. It was a curious novelty to hear some rather clunky adverts between the music, but since it wasnt my style of music I wasnt often exposed to it. John Peel was a hard act to beat.
And this, I think, is the point. I could choose to listen to the BBC, or recorded music, and not be exposed to the adverts. The question facing commercial radio then is the same question that faces mobile advertisers now: How do we get people to sign up to a service that has advertisements embedded into it?

Most of us in this industry recognise that consumers have a love/hate relationship with advertising. Supposed customer polls report that 81% of people dont want adverts. However, half of those people claim to have bought or considered buying a product that they had seen advertised. Interestingly, when it comes to mobile advertising, almost everybody objects to the very notion of it, without any actual expposure to it.
To be fair, it is easy to understand why. At the moment, mobile is the only medium that is relatively free of advertising. Of the adverts that have appeared, most have been the worse possible sort: unsolicited SMS messages. Now, if e-mail spam is a mildly irritating background noise, SMS spam is someone bellowing right in your ear. So, for people who have encountered SMS spam, their memories of it are still strong.

Lack of knowledge
It doesnt help that, and there continues to be a lack of knowledge about costs, largely due to the arcane charging structures so beloved of the operators. Neither does it help that there is a lack of understanding, and a lack of a clear and consistent vocabulary, surrounding mobile advertising. Just as unhelpful is the lack of focus that can characterise mobile advertising. You wont find many radio stations playing Mahler, Madness and Mantovani back to back, thankfully, but youll find people trying to do this on mobile. Just as in any medium, you need focus. And in particular, focus on what people are likely to do on mobile. And that means interactive, short burst use. At least in places where there is pervasive Internet, mobile is not a channel for reading long material.
So we need to be building mobile services attractive enough to make people want to use them, and in particular, enhancing them with advertising. Yes, enhancing. We believe firmly that a well-designed advertising technology, coupled with great, relevant and interactive creative makes for a much better user experience. Imagine a magazine without advertising it would be thin, expensive and downright boring.

Best practice
We did some research and identified what we think is a great method for delivering full-screen, relevant and interactive adverts into mobile content during otherwise dead time.
We unashamedly borrowed the best advertising practices from magazines. So, the adverts become woven into the user experience. They are unobtrusive, but unavoidable. Instead of looking at a blank screen with a wait cursor, a good-looking, context-specific and interactive message comes up. This doesnt slow down the experience or require the user to do anything if they dont want to take up an offer. It does allow the user, however, to stop at the message, skip past, or go back to it as they please. Even better, because this is a phone, not a sheet of glossy paper, it allows the user to actually make a call and enter into a direct dialogue with the advertiser. What could be better than that for publisher, the advertiser, and the long-suffering consumer.

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