Advertisers and wireless carriers are eager to start serving up mobile advertising. But how are they going to get wireless subscribers to play along?
Bribes, says the WSJ, who reports that an Indian mobile company BPL is considering giving subscribers free airtime in exchange for watching 30 or 60 second (!) ads on their phones. That’s one way to bump the mobile ad market, which is supposed to grow from $1 billion to $20 billion over the next five years. (You can read a more sceptical take here). And it may even work in India, where there are 250 million mobile subs, many of whom live in rural areas and don’t get bombarded with ads — perhaps they’ll see BPL’s pitch as an interesting novelty.
What about the U.S.? Virgin Mobile already does something similar with SugarMama, where they reward users with 1 minute each time they watch a 30-second ad. But as cell minutes get cheaper and cheaper, it’s hard to see free airtime as a huge incentive for impatient, time-pressed subscribers who see plenty of ads as it is. If mobile ads are going to work here, they’re going to have to offer something more valuable.