Mobile advertising needs to up its game

Much has been spoken and written about the opportunities presented by mobile advertising. In a search for fresh revenue streams, mobile operators have been aggressively promoting the channel as an untapped resource that many companies should take advantage of to raise awareness of their products and services.

Certainly, the handset does provide a new and unique avenue whereby advertisers can target particular demographic segments, whilst tailoring the promotional content around time and place.

However, at a recent conference focused on the technology that can support advertising as a whole, one major advertising agency made plain its disappointment with the current status and success of mobile advertising.

"Mobile is just another channel. I do not want to be interrupted by dull and depressing banner advertising on what to me is a very personal device. There needs to be a significant shift towards more engaging and intelligent content."

This executive then went on to say that putting together a mobile advertising campaign was difficult and required highly skilled technicians: "To make this work today we have to do everything in-house because finding the whole package - SMS, Qcodes, MMS, short codes, etc.--does not exist today."

Mobile operators were quick to defend the progress achieved with mobile advertising--and will point to numerous success stories. However, there is a growing realisation by these companies that not only is the technology complex and difficult to manage for advertising agencies, but the real competitors are not other operators but other channels.

Key to attracting advertising to mobile will be achieved by providing some form of credible measurement on performance and success. Perhaps the appointment of the Internet Advertising Bureau--a trade body focused on Internet advertising measurement, by the UK's five major cell phone operators will go some way towards convincing a presently very sceptical advertising industry.--Paul