Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mobile advertising - An experience


I decided to give a try to a Reversi-like game found on the Internet just the other day. There was a link to an installation package, which I downloaded and manually installed on my Nokia N95. Even though there was nothing mentioned about that the application is ad-supported, I found the name of the program suspicious since it revealed something about this fact. Never mind, I thought I would still give it a try even though I don't like suprises that come in the form of embedded installation packages (for non-Symbianers: an installation package can contain other 3rd-party software, too, which the main application depends on - these additional programs are referred to as embedded installation packages). Nevertheless, the complementary software has become so intrusive during the installation process and wanted to know such information about me (surprise: it gave me a default birth year, which was exactly the year I was born in - was it an accident or it could find it out somehow?) that I was unwilling to give. Finally I gave up the installation with some bitter taste in my mouth. That was my first experience with Adtronic.

As to mobile advertisement
It's a cliché that there are three-times more mobile devices than desktop computers. If people believe that desktop computers are the homeland of Internet and advertising they will soon have to realize that the transition has already begun from one to the other. Undoubtedly, a device that is always with us is much more compelling platform for advertisers to reach their audience. Their are challenges, though:
  • Generally the 'context' is an invaluable piece of information from advertising's point of view:
    • What is the user's location so that those ads will be shown first that are more relevant at that place.
    • Any kind of information can come in handy regarding the user's social network (gender, age, habits, relation to user, etc.) for better targeted ads.
    • What the user really wants to do in the given moment, such as browsing to a car rental web page, calling a carpenter, receiving a status report SMS from the bank, etc.
  • Mobile phones has different characteristics as desktop computers: one of the most notable differences is that they have smaller display giving less room for nice ads that can easily capture the user's attention.
Questions to the 'Audience'
There are couple of things that even I, as a advertisement target, have to answer. The root question is the same in all cases: How much am I willing to give up from my freedom when using my beloved gadget?
  • How frequently may ads appear without disturbing me?
  • How much should I let the ad-provider know about my context?
  • What can an ad do without being too intrusive?
  • Is it a single application that is 'ad-aware' or I let my entire phone user experience be 'ad-driven'?
Based on what I wrote above you can imagine that I classified Adtronic software as 'suspicious'. But I was surprised to read Forum Nokia Newsletter this morning giving fame to Adtronic. Was it early to judge this software, I asked. A brief summary to those not wanting to visit Forum Nokia:
  • Adtronic offers advertising solution for S60 devices.
  • Ads are shown upon new/missed calls, SMS, MMS. Ads usually appear above alert dialogs covering the majority of screen real estate.
  • How many ads are shown a day can be limited by the user - one must not count on a lot of earned points if it's severely limited, though.
  • Earned points can be used in various ways
    • For reduction of phone bill (who will take care of this?)
    • Points can be used to purchase other applications at a discounted price
    • Or can be redeemed for GreenPeace, Unicef (nice feature)
  • The whole solution relies on a working network connection resulting in some data traffic (how much?).
Adtronic offers better monetization to developers should they allow their applications to be bundled with this service. May I ask, though: is it really the price users (not the developers!) have to pay to use applications at a low price? Am I wrong with that selling $0.99 programs also works in Apple's App Store and I bet it will soon work on Android Market, too? Do we really need this?

Another question I'd like to be answered, too: where can I use my points to purchase applications? Is it Adtronic's own store? Or an operator store? How does the whole idea fit into the model of unified content store that all device/platform vendors are pushing lately?

I'm sure I've missed a lot of points with regards to the topic. Could you please make the picture clearer? Thanks!


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