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Get used to ads on cellphones

September 10, 2008|Alana Semuels | Times Staff Writer

Advertising is a funny thing. You say you hate it, but then you end up laughing out loud at that Jack in the Box commercial or humming the McDonald's jingle when you're in the shower (and lovin' it). We're accustomed to ads on TV and the Internet. Now analysts say we don't even mind advertising on our cellphones.

Although only about 9% of people agree with the statement that advertising on their cellphones is acceptable, 31% say it's acceptable if it lowers their wireless bills, Paul Kultgen, director of mobile advertising at Nielsen Co., said during a presentation at Billboard Mobile Entertainment Live in San Francisco on Tuesday.

"We're at a tipping point," he said. "The best days for mobile ads are in front of us." Advertising has to be relevant, meaningful and creative, he said. If it gives people something of value, he said, they're not opposed to it.

A new study released Tuesday by Local Mobile Search, an advisory service of Opus Research, backs up this theory. About 43% of people interviewed said they were amenable to receiving "offers or deals" on their phones from merchants they select.

"A lot of surveys have been done that show that people are just not really interested in mobile advertising," said Greg Sterling, a senior analyst with Local Mobile Search. "But if you give people assurances that they have some measure of control, then they become much more interested."

Both researchers said that as people become more accustomed to using the mobile Web and to receiving text messages and other services on their phones, they become much more open to advertising there. That may indicate that as people across the country really begin to get swankier phones and data plans they'll become less averse to advertising too.

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