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Mobile Advertising is at the heart of the many of the new business models being touted by stat-ups. What they all fail to remember is that for every Google there are a hundred Alta Vistas. Getting eyeballs on a mobile is tough. Even with todays QVGA screens three inches is nothing to boast about. Driving response from a mobile advert is very, very hard. I know how few people click on the Google ads on my site, it would be even lower if you were paying by the kilobyte.

The Internet has more free content than you could wish for, it’s not quite the same with mobile where most content goes through operators portals irrespective of how open their gardens are.

Expansys HTC Touch Diamond advert

The traditional route for advertising is for a large corporation to tell its advertising what kind of audience they want to attract. The agency creates an advertising campaign and delegates a media buying agency to book the adverts. The buying agency doesn’t have a particular TV channel, radio station or magazine in mind, just a target audience. There tend to be multiple options for each target audience. The media buyer will have a close working relationship with the sales people, many of whom they talk to daily, socialise with and whose magazines or stations they know intimately.  They can quantify the merits of one or another easily. They also buy for ego and career advancement so they don’t stray from the mainstream. They would rather book in Vogue than Drapers Record, even when the trade magazine would be more cost effective. I remember Mobile News getting very angry at a huge Orange advertisement which appeared in the advertising trade magazine Campaign. As Mobile News pointed out, it was only there so that the agency people could talk about it to their mates in the Soho pubs.

The problem with selling mobile advertising is that the buyers don’t understand it. They also have a vested interest in the status quo. The web with click-through rates has been horribly disruptive and they don’t like it. Getting an agency to try something different means finding someone who wants to make a name for themselves by doing something different, giving them lots and lots of advertising for free and then demonstrating to them it works. Media buyers don’t seek out new routes and experiment, they say they do but they are lying.

It took the web a decade to become a major force in advertising and it had to find its own metrics and routes to do it. Those metrics won’t translate to mobile, and if they try the numbers will be pathetically small. Mobile advertising will have to establish itself and find new ways to entice consumers, crucially it will have to play on the fact that the consumer is mobile and until it does that there isn’t a business.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here.


The UK networks have been in the forefront of keeping an eye on unsuitable content. There is a great article here by Bill Thompson, but how old is that photo?

O2 reveals that users want an NFC wallet. What’s important isn’t the users or the banks, but that O2 is behind this. Banks have wanted NFC for years but they don’t buy phone: networks do. This is a real breakthrough.

Most people, who were disappointed with a 3G iPhone would take it back to the shop and get a refund. But one customer decided to sue his network and Apple instead. Guess which country this was in?

It’s surprising how few rumours there have been of the Dell mobile since Ron Garriques and his friend Mike Sudol joined Dell. But Michael Dell is doing his best to give the gossips something to speculate upon.

Orange is adding more branches.

The eee is a great budget machine, and it’s just got cheaper at Expansys. For £160 you get a jolly decent laptop.

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