Mobile potential was sold short

It came as no surprise to read in Marketing Week that advertising will account for as much as $1bn in revenue for mobile portals come 2005 (MW November 2), even though the growth of the market has apparently been hindered by the reported disappointment of consumers in WAP technology.

I am not only encouraged by this news, but consider the prediction to be on the conservative side. Although WAP may not deliver all that some of the TV ads promise, the existing technology, in which SMS text messaging figures prominently, has plenty to offer to creative and resourceful businesses.

For example, our users tend to be young professionals and students managing their social and working lives on the move. They benefit from the information we provide and are able to communicate at speed and from any location with their friends and colleagues. And as new technology progressively delivers on its promises, that group of consumers will become more sophisticated and demanding, bringing a swarm of new devotees along with them.

The issue is not whether the market will be there, but how it is to be treated in order to avoid mobile advertising acquiring a reputation equivalent to that of junk mail.

Mobile phones are potentially the most intimate means of marketing and business communication. Mobile phones are more than a simple communications tool: for their owners they have evolved from an accessory into an essential. They are seen as an extension and expression of their owner’s personality, which is why users customise their handsets with interchangeable covers and downloaded ring tones and icons.

Marketing quite literally into the palms of your audience, through a device of some emotional importance to them, raises issues of branding and sensitivity of a kind that have never been faced before. Permission and trust will be paramount in this new and exciting channel. When the message, target and timing are right, the response and overall effectiveness of the medium will far exceed these current forecasts.

Michael Brown

Chief executive


London EC3V

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