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The Search for a Mobile Advertising Model




I’ve never been totally clear on exactly how mobile advertising was supposed to work. I’d like to blame that on the fact that there hasn’t been one tried-and-true advertising model they’re sticking with. There are banners on providers’ portal sites, I get one PPC result when I use Google on my phone, but advertising, at least on my cell phone, is pretty sparse.

One mobile advertising model that actually sounds appealing is to offer subscribers incentives, such as free minutes, for viewing ads. Virgin Mobile has been testing this model with its ‘Sugar Mama‘ program, as the Seattle Times reports today: “In its first seven months, the Sugar Mama campaign awarded 3 million minutes to about 250,000 of the registered customers.”

The campaign enables people to earn their minutes by watching ads and music videos. To ensure that they have users’attention, a short questionnaire follows each ad.

My favorite thing about this program is that it’s totally voluntary. If you want to earn those minutes, you can, but you can pay for them yourself just as easily. It’s not served up to you because you’re in a certain geographic location (a possible future model), because you performed a certain search or because you used another capability of your phone (like its camera).

My favorite thing about this article, though, is an indirect quote from an analyst with Jupiter Research, Kevin Heisler. He said that “the amount of spending on mobile marketing is expected to double in the next four years from $1.3 billion in 2006.” Sounds like a lot less than the $40 billion and $80 billion estimates we heard at the end of 2006.

Via Marketing VOX