Smart Advertising On Cell Phones

The next major competitive arena for advertisers is clearly cell phones and they seem to be leaping into the fray with enthusiasm. Sprint was the first to offer this but others such as Verizon and AT&T are not far behind. Even Google is teaming up with Orange on a new cell phone that will undoubtedly have its share of advertising.

Naturally the marketing world has been abuzz on these developments, with much of the commentary negative. Rather surprisingly a major Montreal marketing agency has also come out against this new channel for advertising. Of course they’re now sporting a new name (Sid Lee) and a new philosophy so perhaps that’s the explanation. As they explain on their Conversational Capital blog:

We’d like to argue against unrestrained mobile advertising from another perspective. We’re against networks selling unsolicited exposure on the networks consumers are paying to build and maintain.

Unless this is a clever campaign to generate extra conversational capital, it would seem to be a somewhat simple view of the situation.

Clearly the most effective advertising is acceptable to its targeted audience. That was the truism that the J. Walter Thompson Company enunciated early in 2005 when it was reborn as JWT. Their ideas were set out in a JWT Trendletter in May 2005 (PDF). That included the following message:

We create ideas for our clients that people want to spend time with. We believe Time is the new currency. The more people who spend time with a brand the better.

Pull marketing uses ads I want to see.

They were picking up a theme that had then been around for at least five years. A variety of phrases have been coined to describe it but Permission Marketing or Pull Marketing are particularly apt. It all links in with the notion started by the Cluetrain Manifesto and culminating in Time Magazine nominating us all (“You“) as Person of the Year in 2006. In other words we the consumers are in control. Advertisers must be smarter to attract our interest rather than triggering our irritation. Anyone proposing old-fashioned Push Marketing that just pushes the ads ‘in your face’ should be laughed out of court.

If advertisers can be smart and create ads that we ‘want to spend time with’ and the cell phone service is thereby cheaper, then we are all the winners.

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