Advertisers Reach Out and Text Somebody

Published: Jan 24, 2019

In the midst of the current economic downturn, there is one shining light for marketers: a significant number of consumers (41%) have no plans to stop or cut-back on the purchase of cell phones.

A new Harris Interactive study shows that grabbing consumers’ attention through their cherished mobile devices has become an increasingly viable advertising channel. "Business may be slowing for many companies, but there are a lot of people who are still spending money in this country and even those cutting back still need to buy essentials," said Milton Ellis, vice president and senior consultant, Harris Interactive technology group. "The key is to reach out to them through innovative marketing—including mobile advertising—and providing the right incentives to capture their business."

The Harris Interactive research indicates that mobile advertising, especially via mobile phones, can gain a foothold if it is unobtrusive, targeted toward an individual's personal tastes, and offers something unique. Among teens surveyed, over half (56%) said they would be interested in viewing mobile ads with incentives, while over one-third (37%) of adults noted that they would be receptive to such advertising.

"No other advertising medium approaches the personal relationship consumers have with their mobile devices," Ellis said. "This relationship needs to be respected, but can be leveraged by marketers through robust segmentation and personalization. We can gain consumer interest by baiting the hook and providing them with something that traditional advertising cannot. Our research indicates that teens will be strong early adapters to this advertising, with adults not far behind."

Harris Interactive asked survey respondents to identify the best mobile advertising incentives. Not surprisingly, cash is king, with 80% of adults and 70% of teens identifying it as the top incentive for responding to mobile advertising.

Other incentives, as rated by teens:
Entertainment downloads (61%)
Free music (57%)
Complimentary minutes (53%)

Other incentives, as rated by adults:
Free minutes (49%)
Discount coupons (37%)
Free entertainment (31%)
Free music downloads (24%)

In terms of how these incentives should best be delivered, the Harris Interactive research indicates that text messaging is the preferred advertising approach for both adults (69%) and teens (64%). Teens are more willing to accept advertising images on their mobile phones (47%), versus adults (35%). The allure of video imagery in mobile advertising is down 10% among adults from last year, but more of these older mobile technology users are open to ads being transferred automatically to their e-mail (30%) than in the past.

"Adults and teens are growing more accustomed to mobile advertising, but it appears this technology in general has yet to deliver the needed advertising experience to consumers. However, this will surely come as the medium evolves," said Judith Ricker, division president, Harris Interactive marketing communications research group. "No matter how mobile advertising messages are delivered, our research shows that if a company is going to invade a consumer’s personal space with advertising, it had better be for something of interest to them. Personalization is hyper-critical."

Providing personal information to marketers to help them target advertising messages and products has always been a sensitive topic, but more than half (54%) of adults say they are comfortable doing so for mobile advertisers, especially if offered the right incentive. Teens, in contrast, are very guarded about their personal information: only 35% say they would divulge personal data, even if an incentive is offered; 25% said they would never provide personal information. Teens’ reluctance may be a result of the recent online privacy controversies on social networking sites.

"Like any effective advertising, mobile ads must convey a clear value proposition to consumers and must be aligned with overall brand strategy," added Ricker.

The 2008 Consumer Acceptance of Mobile Advertising study was conducted online within the United States February 2008 among 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and over and 200 teenagers ages 13–17. For more information, please visit