3GSM - Mobile advertising not here yet

Leaders said that mobile advertising won't happen until the mobile industry can set up a common framework for it

Despite the buzz around mobile advertising, end users and eager advertisers may have to wait a while for widespread deployments as the mobile industry sorts out the requirements for it.

"The problem is, today we are highly fragmented," said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association, the global trade group for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators. He spoke Tuesday morning at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone Group, agreed. Despite the interest from advertisers in using mobile phones to deliver ads, the mobile industry needs to create a consistent framework.

"If we went to Proctor and Gamble and said, this is how Vodafone does it but Orange is different, they will find it hard to move their ads onto mobiles," Sarin said. "If we don't move together we will have a fragmented medium and user base instead of a single valuable medium that reaches two billion people."

A common framework would include specifications for the appropriate size of banner ads and length of video ads as well as a reporting mechanism to help advertisers measure the success of their campaigns.

The GSM Association has recently established the Mobile Advertising Forum to begin to define such a framework. The group hopes to include a wide variety of interested parties, including advertisers, aggregators and content providers to set the parameters.

Some end users are interested in the concept of mobile advertising because it can enable free or low-cost services in exchange for viewing advertisements. In addition, the mobile industry promises that it can offer advertisements that users may be interested in based on their location, for example. "It's about engagement with consumers," Conway said. "We will tailor-make ads for the taste of consumers."

Mobile phones represent an enticing platform for advertisers who already eagerly address the 1.4 billion TV sets and 1 billion PCs in the world, said Sarin. With 2 billion mobile users on the planet, "we're clearly an important area," he said.

Not all those users phone users, however, would be able to receive mobile ads. They must subscribe to a data service that enables the delivery of such content and a capable phone too, he said.

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