According to a new survey released by Ingenio, Inc., more than four out of five U.S. adults surveyed (85 percent) currently own a mobile phone compared to only about seven in ten (71 percent) who have a landline or home phone. Of the overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers that own a mobile phone, the study finds that only a minority of mobile phone owners (30 percent) can recall seeing or hearing an advertisement on their mobile phone in the past year. The research, conducted by Harris Interactive, strongly suggests that a dominant advertising model that caters to a growing demographic of mobile phone users has yet to emerge.
"Mobile advertising is one of the most intriguing business opportunities today," said Marc Barach, chief marketing officer, Ingenio, Inc. "Advertising on the Internet, especially pay-per-click ads served up with search results, grew to a multibillion dollar industry within a few short years. Though the mobile environment is clearly different from the PC, it presents a similar opportunity for new ad models provided that they are adapted to the specific needs of mobile users."
The survey was conducted online among 4,123 adults 18 and over in the United States. The research was commissioned by Ingenio, Inc., the pioneer and leading provider of Pay Per Call advertising, to gather a better understanding of peoples' attitudes towards, and usage of, their mobile phones.
Nearly two-thirds of mobile phone owners (63 percent) agreed that their phone is very personal to them, and they also expressed preferences regarding the kind of mobile ads they found acceptable. Survey results show that the most favorable response was to sponsored text links that appear as a result of Internet searches (26 percent), confirming the value of returning ads relevant to the consumer's search query. This was closely followed by audio ads that play instead of ringing when waiting for someone to answer a call (21 percent), or a text message from a company (20 percent) as the type of mobile ads rated at least somewhat acceptable by at least one in five mobile phone owners.
The future for mobile advertising looks promising based on a wide variety of survey findings, including the use of cell phones for more than just making and receiving phone calls. When asked about their current and anticipated cell phone use, about half of mobile phone owners (49 percent) indicated that they are already using their phones for more than just calls, including sending and receiving text messages (36 percent), and taking, sending and receiving photos (24 percent).
Younger adults are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to own a mobile phone than a landline: among adults ages 18-34, 89 percent own a cell phone or smart phone, but only 57 percent have a landline. Additionally, younger mobile phone owners are considerably more likely to use their phones for more than just phone calls (74 percent of adults ages 18-34 versus 20 percent of those ages 55 and up) and men are more likely than women to use their phones to check email, access the Internet for something other than search and download, and find information using a search engine.
The survey also found that over the next three years, more than half of mobile phone owners (57 percent) anticipate using their phones for more than just making and receiving phone calls with younger mobile phone owners more likely than their older counterparts (75 percent of those ages 18-34 versus 33 percent of those ages 55 and up).
Top Mobile Search Categories
Finally, among those who have ever called 411 from their mobile phones, commercial (74 percent) and restaurant (72 percent) phone and address listings are the most frequently sought after types of information. This is inline with Ingenio, Inc. data that "impulse" local searches for restaurants, entertainment services and hotels currently make up two-thirds of Pay Per Call ads served on its mobile network, while the other portion is comprised of "considered" searches such as debt management and real estate. However, parallel to mobile users' stated intent to use their phones for more than just making/receiving calls in the future, mobile searchers have been shown to make more "considered" searches, for financial and real estate services, for example, and Ingenio is seeing steady growth in queries for these categories.
"An inherent difference between the mobile and PC environments is that mobile searchers want to find information and then immediately act on it," said Barach. "The mobile environment lets advertisers reach consumers at the point of decision, and an advertising model that connects the two when intent is at its highest will do for mobile what clicks did for the web."