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Mobile advertising becoming more consumer friendly?

Honestly, there are few things more annoying than receiving a spam text message. Oh, I can get the hottest new ringtones? Gee, thanks for the breaking news. I’m glad you used up one of my valuable text messages for the month — or even wasted my 10 cents. But if you think about it, this is almost exactly how Internet advertising was in its infancy. You’d navigate to a web page, only to be bombarded with pop-up ads — which are just as annoying as text message spam. Well, Internet advertising evolved into something less annoying, though it’s not exactly perfect now. Will mobile advertising undergo similar changes?

We’ve already seen services like Myscreen Mobile and SugarMama, which pay people to view ads. But as we’ve said before, we think those services are just bridges to something bigger. Take advantage of them now, because there’s little chance you’ll ever be paid to view an ad again. That is, until we develop a new platform on which advertisers think they can make a buck.

Finally, though, mobile advertisers are beginning to take advantage.

Several blue-chip brands like Nokia Corp. and McDonald’s Corp. have been experimenting with interactive ads on cell phones, taking advantage of the device’s ability to know where you are. Customers have the option of finding the nearest retail or restaurant outlet with the press of a key.

Now, the thing is, we still don’t want to receive a text message offering this service. We want to know it exists, and we’ll use it at our convenience. Yes, that means the ads won’t reach as many people. But it also means that better prospects will be viewing them. And as someone paying for an ad, wouldn’t you rather see a lesser number of more interested prospects viewing the ad, rather than a greater number of prospects whose interest can’t be gauged?

People need to feel, [Frank] Brown [director of the mobile marketing and technology firm Sydus] said, that they had specifically invited the pitch or are engaging with the brand in a relevant and entertaining way.

So at least one person gets it. Honestly, if approached in this manner, mobile advertising can be useful and successful. However, we feel that many American advertising firms will have a hard time breaking away from their normal interruption model.

[San Francisco Chronicle]