Posted January 18, 2011 4:59 pm by with 4 comments

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Everyone knows what a ringtone is but I admit I was thrown for a moment when I saw this new report about ringbacks. A ringback tone is what you hear while you’re waiting for your call to connect. Usually it’s a sequence of beeps, which aren’t very pleasant to listen to, so why not offer something more fun like the McDonald’s jingle or a reminder to have a Coke and a Smile with lunch.

Ringback advertising is on the rise and according to a new report from Juniper Research, ad dollars are likely to hit $780 million by 2015. Juniper reports that many companies offer airtime credit in return for opting in to the branded content program, so that makes it a win-win on both sides.

Not so, says Dr. Windsor Holden who warns that ringback advertising could “jar” the listener causing a “backlash from disgruntled callers, conceivably resulting in a decline in network voice traffic.”

I find it hard to believe that listening to an ad over a cell phone would lead to the demise of the entire mobile market. I’m sure someone said that about TV and look at where we are now with an average 18 minutes of commercials in every 60 minute show.

While ringbacks aren’t that common here in the US, they’ve very popular in Turkey and on the rise in China and India where the free airtime offer is more enticing. As for here in the states, it might take more than a few cents credit in order to get people to listen to ads every time they make a call, but with mobile advertising in general on the rise, it’s bound to happen and soon.

What are your thoughts on ringback advertising?

  • On a personal note, I don’t like the idea of being bombarded with advertisements every time I call someone. However, if it could reduce my phone bill in half, I would reconsider my position. If this is to work, consumers must be gaining something or in some way benefiting from the ads.

  • As predicted by many, advertisers are investing their budgets on mobile and digital marketing and I think this will rise even more! And with this in mind, advertisers are staying up-to-date on their options in the mobile space. And when this is to one-side of the business, on the other side, Retailers are increasingly seeking to offer smartphone apps as a key means of generating brand exposure! But I personally feel this kind of advertising trends shouldn’t make mess with customers as these tools are more intrusive by nature!
    What do you think?

  • Stu

    My voicemail when I was young, married, and still in college said, “have you ever tried my wife’s homemade chocolate chip cookies? They are amazing! Anyway, this is Stu’s cell phone. Leave me a message.”

    I left it like that for 3 or 4 months and almost EVERY time I spoke with someone after they had heard my voice message would bring it up, and without fail, every time they left a message they would mention that they now had a craving for my wife’s cookies.

    I could do a fun blog post about this….stay tuned.

  • Well, ring back tones are especially popular in emerging markets and some believe that advertising ring back is the most future-proof advertising channel because it is absolutely targeted and simply uses dead air time. I’m pretty sure that this will work in many markets.