Mobile Users Can’t Escape The Ads

All those companies betting their business models on a surge in mobile advertising can take heart in research released today by The Nielsen Company. Some 23 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers say they’ve been exposed to advertising on their phones in the past 30 days.

Even better, about half (28 million) of all data users who recall seeing mobile ads in the past month say they responded in some way.

While the Nielsen Mobile report is generally bullish on the outlook for mobile advertising, it does note only 10 percent of data users surveyed said they think advertising on their mobile devices is acceptable.

“We see an increasing trend of consumers willing to trade off and receive advertising to gain more — and better — mobile content,” Jeff Herrmann, vice-president of Mobile Media at Nielsen Mobile, said in a statement. “Successful mobile marketers will meet the challenge offered by consumers by engaging with them in a way that adds value to the mobile user content experience.”

The results come from Nielson Mobile’s bi-annual Mobile Advertising Report, based on a survey of more than 22,000 active mobile data users who used at least one non-voice mobile service in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Several info-nuggets of note in the report include the finding that teenagers were the most likely segment to recall seeing mobile advertising (46 percent compared to 29 percent for all data users). Also, some 26 percent of those who saw an ad responded at least once by sending an SMS text-message, the most popular ad response. Another response method, click-to-call, where users follow a link on their phone to call a specific number, was sited by 9 percent.

On the trade-off issue, 32 percent said they’re open to receiving mobile advertising if it lowers their bill, while 13 percent they’d be open if it improves the media and content available. Fourteen percent said they’re open to mobile advertising as long as it’s relevant to their interests.

Overall there was a big jump in the number of data users who recalled seeing mobile advertising, up 38 percent from the last report. In the second quarter of 2007, Neilsen reported 42 million subscribers saw mobile ads, while the number rose to 58 million for the fourth quarter.

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Google and Microsoft all have major initiatives related to mobile advertising. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) took steps to expand its mobile ad platform in December based on technology it acquired with the purchase of ScreenTonic and aQuantive. In March, Yahoo launched its Mobile Publisher Services which it said is designed to let publishers and advertisers in 19 countries boost the distribution and money-making potential of content on mobile phones.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has made a number of mobile-related acquisitions and is the prime mover behind the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium pushing to make handsets more open to independent developers.

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