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Though the Mobile Marketing Association expects mobile ad spending to grow 27% to $2.1 billion in 2010, marketers who are testing the mobile waters must be extremely careful about who they target, according to an analysis by BIGresearch, which found that marketing to the wrong consumer groups may turn them off, rather than on.

The research analyzed a range of demographic data to determine which groups are most likely to be open to mobile marketing, or “mobile-marketing users.” It also collected data about the specific communications behaviors and preferences of this group.

Men Like Mobile Ads More

Demographically, consumers who like mobile marketing tend to be young men, according to BIGresearch. Young males are cell phone-centered and more likely to use social media. On the other hand, those who don’t like mobile marketing tend to be slightly older women who are not as centered around their cell phone or likely to use social media.
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Better for Some Products than Others

The study also found that mobile ads may likely be more effective for different industries and product groups. For example, the mobile marketing user segment represents a desirable consumer group for specific products such as electronics. Those who are open to mobile marketing are much more likely to purchase electronics over the next six months than the non-user group: 22.4% plan to buy a computer (vs. 13.1% of non-users), 20.2% plan to buy a TV (v. 12.6%) and 11.2% plan to buy a digital camera (v. 7.1%).

Other study findings about mobile-marketing users:

  • They are more likely than non-users to regularly give advice to others about products or services they have purchased.
  • They are more likely to regularly seek advice than non-users
  • Their top triggers for online searches are magazines, coupons and cable TV.
  • After conducting online search, they are most likely to communicate about it with others via face-to-face, email and cellphone.
  • Both mobile marketing users and non-users go to iTunes.com, YouTube.com and LimeWire.com – in that order- most often to access or download video/music content.
  • They are more likely to visit Facebook,Myspace and Twitter “regularly,” vs. non-users.

Haters Increase

In less positive news for mobile ads, BIGresearch found that the percentage of people who don’t like mobile marketing has increased across the board since June 2008. Two-thirds (66.8%) of overall respondents don’t like text ads (vs. 63.5% in 2008), 60.2% don’t like voicemail ads (vs. 56.8% in 2008) and 59.6% don’t like video ads (vs. 56.1% in 2008).

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Additionally, the percentage of people who think marketers need permission prior to sending an ad (58% vs. 55.6% in 2008), and those who think they are an invasion of privacy (52.1% vs. 49.5% in 2008).

“Marketers are excited about the potential of mobile marketing, but they need to beware,” said BIGresearch’s Gary Drenik. “Cell phones are perceived by consumers as a very personal form of media and unwanted messaging could be interpreted as an invasion of privacy. There is a risk in the mobile space of turning consumers off and have a negative impact on ROI.”

In related news, Google’s just-announced acquisition of AdMob promises to give the now-nascent mobile ad market a boost by consolidating the fragmented mobile ad space, increasing overall availability in the market, and – most likely – boosting inventory aimed at the up-and-coming Android platform.

While Google pointed out that mobile ads currently make up less than 1% of all ad budgets and now reaps very little revenue from mobile ads, the search giant is now betting that mobile ads – including display – are ready for prime time.

About the study: BIGresearch’s latest semi-annual Simultaneous Media Survey (SIMM 14) was conducted in June 2009 among more than 22,000 consumers.

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