Cell Ads Not Bad, Consumers Say

New research by Harris Interactive has found that U.S. consumers are more willing to accept mobile phone advertisements than previously thought, and of the 35 percent who said they were at least somewhat interested in receiving ads on their cell phones, 22 percent identified voice messages as the preferred means of contact.

"Historically, U.S. mobile phone users have been resistant to receiving mobile phone advertisements, but, according to our research, cell phone users are more willing than ever to receive advertising," Judith Ricker, president of the Marketing Communications Research Practice at Harris Interactive, concluded in the report. "To make their mobile campaigns more effective, advertisers should take note of how cell phone users are most interested in being contacted. Advertisements need to have a clear value proposition, be relevant and allow recipients to control how they are profiled."

The survey, involving more than 900 adults polled in early February, found that more than half (56 percent) of those who are at least somewhat interested in receiving ads on their cell phone say they would prefer to receive them via text message, while 40 percent would like to receive them as a picture message. Twenty-four percent would choose to receive them as videos, 23 percent would prefer to have them transferred automatically to email, 22 percent would prefer voice messages, and 7 percent would prefer something else.

Incentive-based advertising is the most acceptable form, according to the research, with 78 percent saying the best incentive would be cash, followed by free minutes (63 percent), free entertainment downloads, such as games or ring tones (40 percent) and discount coupons (40 percent).

Just under three-quarters (70 percent) of respondents who are at least somewhat interested in receiving mobile advertising are also willing to provide information about themselves to their cell phone provider in exchange for an ability to customize the service to their needs. Among them, 30 percent are willing to receive the ads for the right incentive, while 20 percent would receive them if they have control to turn them on or off, and 20 percent are willing to receive the ads if they can choose whom the information is sent to.

Other findings in the report include:

66 percent would like the ability to opt out;
56 percent would like to choose the type of ads to be received;
48 percent would like to be able to set the number of ads to be received in a given period of time;
43 percent would like to provide a profile of desired areas of interest so only specific ads are sent;
42 percent would want different or discounted plan if ads are included; and
40 percent would like to set specific times when ads would be received.
The information contained in the report is in line with what Paul Beran, president and CEO of Advertel, has found. "The key to that kind of advertising is reaching the party when he is receptive to those types of messages," he says. "If you get them when they're not, they'll just reject them."

Beran has also seen greater acceptance of inbound messages over outbound messages. "If you advertise a number and suggest that people call in for some kind of offer, there's much greater acceptance," he says.

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