Mobile marketing vendor Upstream believes that mobile display ads don't resonate with mobile consumers, but SMS-targeted campaigns do, especially those that provide an offer or coupon. The vendor says it has helped generate over US$500 million in incremental revenue for its clients, which include new customers 6WIND , Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (Milan: TIM), Vodafone Italy , Three UK and Vodafone Romania , so its global reach gives weight to its opinion.
"Operators are obviously doing [SMS marketing] on a massive scale globally," says Marco Veremis, president of Upstream. "It's already a big market. Google delivers about 10 billion impressions per month. Operators deliver about 15 [billion]."
Veremis says that SMS text messages are the easiest route on mobile because consumers are more apt to read the message within seconds of receiving it. SMS is a proven mechanism and one that far more ubiquitous than the mobile Web.
That said, mobile banner ads are still vying for some play time. And, if companies can't make them take up less room on the small screen, they're at least trying to make them more fun. One such company, InMobi, is using 3D on the iPad. Check out the video below for a noisy ShowStoppers demo from James Lamberti, VP of global research and marketing at InMobi.
Why this matters
Wireless operators, developers and brands are getting more creative in the ways they use mobile ads to reach phone owners, but there's a much higher level of scrutiny on the smaller screen. It's important that ads be non-intrusive, contextual, targeted, opt-in and, hopefully, useful.
Even if mobile marketing ultimately proves ineffectual, it's a new screen for mobile operators, and any revenue they pull in is incremental. As such, operators may be better off sticking with proven modes of reaching consumers, such as SMS, rather than pouring money into experiments.
Each year for the past decade or so has been "the year of mobile ads." Here are a few other ways companies are trying to make the market happen:
- mPortal Makes Idling Exciting on Cox & Cricket
- Flytxt Unveils New Mobile Ads Platform
- AlcaLu Targets Egypt With Mobile Ads
- CTIA 2010: Sprint Finds an ID
- JumpTap Lures Developers From Apple, Google
- CommunicAsia 2010: Navteq Preps India Ad Launch
- Ads Follow Mobile Video Explosion
- Mobile Marketers: Just Do Something
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile