Mobile advertising has progressed from its first iteration as a passive medium, typically a WAP banner to become targeted, interactive and personalised - Mobile Advertising 2.0.
This change has been enabled by new formats, such as video, for animated messaging and moving banners, and contextual use of logos that fade away or blend into the content of the video image. All of which are combined make for a more subtle approach to using post and pre-roll advertising which doesn't irritate the user.
This array of formats alongside the ability to interact with other users and social groups (as well with the brand) has opened up more creative possibilities. In turn, this has led to greater engagement with the user and a direct link between sales outcomes and money spent on advertising.
The flexibility of format and media type has also increased the take-up of ad-funded, subsidised or sponsored mobile content which Jupiter Research predicts will make up the bulk of the $5.4 billion mobile content revenues predicted by 2013.
The viral affect
Another important facet is the trend towards the use of viral marketing to expand the reach and impact of mobile campaigns.
The power of viral marketing has been proven in the PC world and its impact on the mobile world could be more exciting, as operators wake up to the potential of leveraging "˜social leaders' - users who are most likely to forward ads on to their friends and family - as the focus for their mobile advertising campaigns.
Getting to know the user
Behaviour-based targeting will also be an important factor in mobile advertising's success as it is hoped it will overcome the perception of mobile ads as spam. Operators have always been careful to protect their customers from spam, but they are the only member of the value chain that has knowledge about the subscriber, their habits and interests.
Only the service provider knows which types of content the user has downloaded, what pricing contract they chose and what time of day they are most likely to be sending text messages or downloading content from the web.
These insights and the fact that the mobile device (unlike any other medium) acts as a kind of alter ego to the user, gives advertisers advantages not found in any other medium - so long as they work in conjunction with the service provider.
Not all advertisers and content providers do, of course. A new breed of media players engage directly with users, bypassing the operators.
Nor is competition from content owners is not the only fly in the service providers' ointment. The struggle to reach consensus on methods of measuring mobile advertising's effectiveness continues to plague the industry and impedes advertisers seeking to compare mobile with other media.
Subsidising core services
The possibility of reducing the end user's mobile bill by offsetting part of the costs against advertising is an attractive option for users and service providers. As users become more cost conscious and revenue from cash cows like text messages and phone calls continue to decline, new sources of income become more attractive.
For this next generation of mobile advertising to prosper, a strong relationship between operators, advertisers and brand owners must be forged. The technology and tools are available and service providers can deliver an experience to advertisers and end users which pound for pound, is more effective than older media.
So if the relationship between the three parties remains strong - this could be the year that maybe, just maybe, mobile advertising finally comes of age‾
Eran Hertzman is AVP Marketing for Mobile Advertising