The New York Times published a thought-provoking article (requires free log-in) on mobile phone ads. I've shared my thoughts on mobile advertising before, and as the debate rages on, I'm glad to continue to pitch in with my views.
The "new" idea is that consumers will accept ads in return for lower cost or free mobile phone service. Does anyone remember Juno or Cybergold? The problem with these services-for-ads programs is that the people they attract are the least likely to actually respond to the ads.
I know that a lot of people (most of whom are younger than me <grin>) have adapted to a regular stream of inbound SMS text messages from friends. Maybe they've developed the ability to check their phone while at the dentist, movies or business meetings, etc., such that they can readily ignore both personal text messages as well as ads. If this kind of behavior does not become mainstream, I suspect that ads simply will be too intrusive (because they will arrive when you are at the dentist, the movies and business meetings), and that people will take steps to ignore them.
Where I do think mobile marketing will shine is user-driven interactions: responding to billboards, signs, radio ads, TV shows, etc. Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of mobile marketers that keep your telephone number and continue to SMS you every few days, like the one whose message I signed up for a few weeks back. Needless to say, the marketer has provided little information on how to keep from getting its ads (and yes, it has absolutely soured the brand in my mind).
I can't wait to see how mobile marketing plays out. No matter which direction it goes, it'll represent a fundamental change in how people live their lives and how they interact with the companies they depend on. My view is that this kind of change is always good even if there are some stumbles along the way.