Wednesday, April 25

Advertising Everywhere: Harris Interactive

Last October, Harris Interactive released survey results that claimed about one-quarter (26 percent) of current mobile phone subscribers say they would be willing to watch advertising on their cell phones if in return they were to receive free applications for their phones. Smaller numbers (7 percent) of wireless subscribers say they would be interested in receiving promotional text messages if they were relevant.

Today, Harris, which is the 12th largest market research firm in the world, is revising its bid for mobile cellular advertising, saying that cell phone users are more willing than ever to receive advertising that is relevant and has a clear purpose. They believe it enough that they are reprising their presentation from this year's Mobile Advertising USA event, delving deeper into consumer acceptance of mobile advertising and its impact on the cell phone industry.

In other words, much like you might expect from polling experts, they don't want to take no for an answer. Even in October when they first released the idea, Joe Porus, vice president and chief architect for Harris Interactive called the 7 percent of the 1,125 U.S. adults who took the online survey "a huge market."

Sure, I know he meant 7 percent of the 200 million cell phones in the U.S., and not the approximately 78 respondents who took the survey online (not on their cell phones). But one has to wonder whether or not advertising is becoming too pervasive to be effective.

Just yesterday, Sterling Hagar at AgencyNext cited an Alain Thys' slide show that says: In 1965, 80 percent of 18 to 49-year-olds in the U.S. could be reached with three 60-second TV spots. In 2002, it required 117 prime time commercials to do the same. That number is considerably worse today.

Look, I appreciate that Harris Interactive is very excited to get something going, but I am starting to believe they are going about it all wrong, er, maybe. To know for sure, you have to register for their free webinar from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST tomorrow (April 26). I'm not sure if I will make it or not, but the new pitch promises to include: overall consumer acceptance of mobile advertising, effects of incentives on acceptance levels, advertising format preferences, and consumer feelings about profiling.

So why do I think they have it wrong? Oh, I don't know. I'm thinking that they might have missed the entertainment-broadcast-technology industry's bid to reinvent the cell phone. While some people might be okay accepting advertising while they watch live TV on their cell phones (or click an ad after a small Internet segment), I don't think they'll appreciate program and mid-song interruptions from text message advertisers or third-party application ads.

Simply put, the phones they will be talking about tomorrow will likely not exist the day after tomorrow. Yep. Dead horse.



Rich on 4/26/07, 12:18 PM said...

Famous First Words:

Harris Interactive's free webinar was an excellent presentation that glimpsed into the future of the advertising on integrated communication devices as we sometimes talk about here. If you were able to dial in, it was well worth it. I intend to write more about the subject tomorrow or Monday, after the presentation deck is e-mailed.

They more than answered some of my concerns about intrusive advertising in their presentation, stressing that consumer choice (including opt outs) and incentive ads (an ad with a download) are among the safest choices. If such advertising is abused, such as spam, then we would like see reactive legislation, they said.

While I am not yet convinced that text messaging will be as effective in the future as Harris Interactive's information suggests, they did note that the consumer base in America (in particular) has not fully grasped the future of digital technology, especially as it pertains to cell phones.

The net sum is that while I still think text ads might be a dead horse, Harris Interactive raises a lot of great points. I also think that advertisers might be somewhat cautious as advertising becomes even more pervasive than it now.

However, without question, the webinar certainly suggests that this is a brave new world. Sometimes it seems a bit spooky, but often times it might just work.

A special thanks to the Harris Interactive for taking a lead on the topic. The webinar easily clarified what did not come across in print. I certainly think they are working in the right direction in terms of gathering information and trying to find what turn out to be a new business model for the future of advertising.

I'll explain more when I reintroduce a new post on the topic in the days ahead. There are especially useful applications, in my opinion, for social media. If they ever offer it again, you owe it to yourself to participate as anyone working in communication.


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