SkyGo: Wireless Ads Work for Branding, Direct Response

Wireless ad firm SkyGo Monday delivered a new set of findings from its pilot program, which the company says indicate that mobile ads work both as a direct response and branding medium.

In fact, the company says its Boulder, Colo. wireless marketing study demonstrates that mobile “push” advertising (in this case, WAP alerts) is perceived as a value-added service — generating high response rates, fostering brand awareness and driving consumers to act.

While industry watchers might be skeptical at the Redwood City, Calif. firm’s panacean findings on wireless ads, SkyGo said that its results speak for themselves.

“Our findings prove that this model of wireless advertising is an effective direct response and branding vehicle,” said SkyGo co-founder and chief executive Daren Tsui. “The wireless Internet is a very powerful new medium to reach consumers — we can deliver an advertiser’s message in various ways: embedded in content, as an ad shopping channel, or as a timely alert.

“The data we’ve gathered illustrates that when done correctly, wireless advertising offers carriers a way to reduce churn, publishers a method to monetize their wireless content, and consumers a compelling value-added service.”

The study, which ran from September to January, delivered some 500,000 messages from about 550 different campaigns to the study’s 1,000 participants. While the participants were given mobile devices and were required to receive a certain number of messages per day — which critics allege dilutes the study’s findings, since it doesn’t represent true wireless penetration — SkyGo repeatedly has said its findings would prove useful to marketers.

For one, the study revealed that most of the ads SkyGo delivered to mobile phones — 64 percent — were opened by consumers. More interesting, however, was that these alerts generated an overall, aided ad recall rate of 58 percent, while 15 percent of the ads resulted in action or planned action. Some 2.9 percent of the delivered ads led to an offline or online purchase, SkyGo said.

Findings also indicated that users were irritated by untargeted promotions and ads that simply touted a product without a special offer or interactivity. Similarly, ads that embedded interactive trivia, polls, newsletter registration and e-mail information signups fared much better — garnering up to 52 percent clickthrough.

In other good news for online direct marketers, 37 percent of the study’s participants opted to provide their credit card information and sign up for an “electronic wallet,” enabling them to respond to advertisements and make purchases over the wireless Internet without re-entering information each time they wish to buy.

Despite SkyGo’s vested interest in promoting wireless marketing and advertising, the results at least suggest that opt-in, wireless announcements do make a marginal difference in terms of user interaction, branding and sales.

But that’s only if the ads are opened. The real question is whether users outside of the study will opt-in to WAP ads, and whether they will open them when received in a non-test setting.

SkyGo made some attempts to answer that worry with a previous, preliminary set of findings that suggested users liked WAP alerts so much that a majority of them would consider switching their wireless carrier to receive them. Whether that’s truly the case remains to be seen.

Additionally, the future of wireless advertising could be radically different from the rosy findings of SkyGo’s study, should more advertisers begin using WAP ads, cluttering the environment and decreasing clickthrough.

Nevertheless, the firm said it’s still confident WAP ads will remain useful for marketers even if they gains popularity.

“We … feel that wireless will be no different than any other medium — over time these numbers may continue to drop,” said Tsui, noting that the study detected an undisclose

d drop-off in response rates as the program progressed. “However, the strength of these early findings demonstrates that this medium will remain viable for the long haul.”

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