A sales pitch in your pocket?

It's easy to see why the marketing community is so excited about gaining access to cell phones

Guidelines may not sound like much protection, but individual marketing and cell phone companies have good reason to comply with them: "We want to be able to self-govern," Styers says, In other words, they'd like to forestall additional regulation. Furthermore, all text messages must go through aggregators. Unlike in Europe, the few aggregators in the United States are all MMA members.

But it appears that the MMA's mandate ends with text messaging--and in the opinion of Charles Golvin, a principal analyst with Forrester Research, "text messaging is only one of the channels in which one would receive marketing materials on the phone."

More and more phones now come with browsers, and a so-called mobile Web of sites optimized for phone browsers is developing. "If you browse the mobile Web on your phone, you can expect to see more interstitial and banner ads," Golvin says. (Interstitial ads precede or follow content that you've requested.)

Content sponsorship is gaining in popularity, too. Greystripe's GameJump Web site offers free games for cell phones--but whenever you play, you'll see an ad before you start the game and another when you finish it. The main issue for customers: Downloading the ads may swell your data bill.

Going where you are

Mobile search sites are poised to provide sponsored results based on the assumption that when you search for certain keywords, you're probably looking to buy. "Search for pizza, and you're going to get the best matches for pizza parlors--maybe even localized to where you are," Golvin says.

Not surprisingly, carriers are gearing up to benefit from these opportunities. Verizon, for example, employs technology designed by Medio Systems to help customers search through Verizon's ring tones, games, and images. But at least some cell phone customers may not realize that they're searching only Verizon's content, not the whole Internet. "When using the WAP search built into the home Deck [menu] of their carrier, it's less clear what they're searching," Golvin explains.

But while carriers want to share in marketing revenues, they also have to be mindful of their customers to avoid losing them to the competition. "In general, your carrier will be your advocate," Golvin says. For example, most carriers block unsavory Web sites because they want to be perceived as family-friendly.

How annoying and costly will mobile marketing become? It's largely up to you. Ask your carrier about the privacy policies governing its offerings, and check your data and messaging plans to ensure that downloads and messaging costs don't bloat your bill. You may still receive targeted ads, but at least you'll know why.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Yardena Arar

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?