Mobile phone ads hit by spending curbs says the FT

 In opinion

A recent report in London’s Financial Times by Tim Bradshaw claims that

“The global economic downturn is set to hit advertising on mobile phones until at least 2010, when marketing agencies expect clients to increase their budgets.

Advertising agencies say clients are reining in their marketing spending and focusing on proven mediums such as mass audience television and the internet.”

You can read the report yourself, but I just don’t buy this.

While it is true to say that mobile advertising has been slow to take off, it may become even more important in the current economic crisis, as consumers are more willing to reduce their costs through offers and discounts sent to their mobile as part of a targeted and permission based advertising campaign.

One key ingredient that is missing from the mix is access to user generated preferences and permission – that is consumers who have provided their preferences to an advertiser, and are hence willing to receive certain types of advertisements on their mobile – in exchange for a benefit such as free minutes, free content or vouchers they can redeem at a store.

The status quo at the moment seems to be to follow the internet approach where advertisers buy up a range of impressions across mobile sites that they think a consumer might visit.  This is all a bit hit and miss, and completely ignores the power of the mobile phone, and the benefits of engaging in a conversation with the consumer about what they would like to receive.

If mobile advertising is to progress, my strong view is that it is likely to be the smaller companies and nimble agencies that can move much faster than the mobile operators that will succeed.

Operators at the moment don’t seem to have a way of easily collecting the sort of information that advertisers need such as lifestyle, and the types of advertising they are interested in receiving (eg motor vehicles, movie tickets, outdoor sports etc).

Companies that solve this problem will start to move mobile advertising forward – regardless of the economic climate.


Based in London, The Actionable Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and comementator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.