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New medium, new message

Move over print ad, TV commercial and yes, even you, Internet pop-up. The latest trend in media advertising is much…

By Lucy Gotell , in Blogs You Expect Me to Buy That? Issues in Media Marketing , on January 25, 2008

Move over print ad, TV commercial and yes, even you, Internet pop-up. The latest trend in media advertising is much more personal.

It seems mobile advertising companies are gaining in popularity these days, thinking up ways to send out personalized ads to customers through cell phones, iPods or any of those other handy gadgets we like to spend our money on.

An online article from Red Herring magazine reported this week that one such company, Ad Infuse, recently received $12 million in investments, and is among a dozen or so start-up companies that are “targeting the mobile market.” With such clients as Proctor & Gamble, BMW and Microsoft, these are no small beans we’re talking about.

As these companies grow in reputation and ability to bring in revenues, we can expect to see a lot more ads through our mobile devices in coming years. According to the article, the research firm eMarketer expects “worldwide spending on mobile ads” to increase by $12.3 billion between 2006 and 2011.

Of course, there are still a few kinks to work out, like the fact that cell phone bandwidth may not allow all consumers to receive the ads. Or the far more human issue of peoples’ resentment of the invasion on their privacy or their right to choose when to physically look at an advertisement.

True, Internet advertising has already breached this barrier in a way. But the fact remains that people choose when to browse the Internet in general, just as they choose when to open a magazine or turn on their TV. Mobile advertising differs from most because, although customers technically choose when to use their cell phone, it is a medium borne much more out of necessity than entertainment. I doubt anyone wants to see an ad – even if it WAS created especially for him or her – every time they take a business call or phone up Mom for a recipe.

I’m sure these companies will bring in top-notch professionals to tell them that what they are doing is perfectly legitimate, so long as they’re giving us what we really want. Until then, let’s appreciate the fact that the most personal thing we see when we open our cell phone now is that photo of us in a too-tight bikini from last summer’s vacation.