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Software client in the mobile handset – Yes or No?

One of the biggest areas of divergent opinions that I’ve seen recently is the use of client in the handsets. Ads can be served with or without a special client resident in the handset, and each approach has its advantages:

Solutions based on a server + a client:
The fact is, you can get a much richer user experience when there is a client. For example:
• Ads can be pre-cached so they play immediately, and they can be downloaded at off-peak hours to lower the load on the network;
• the user interface can be much more interactive, which early studies indicate leads to higher click through rates;
• the user’s activities can be tracked even when they are not connected to the network, therefore developing a more accurate “personalization profile”.

Solutions based on a Server only:
There is one big argument for server only solutions: the number of people you can reach. If you don’t require special client software in the handset, you can show ads on essentially any phone, immediately. This means an advertiser can address the entire installed base of mobile subscribers. Historically, it has proven extraordinarily difficult to get client software installed in a broad segment of the population. The major advertisers are usually interested in being able to reach large portion of the population, and any which seriously reduces the size of the potential audience is not good.

Do these clients exist? No question. There were many to be seen in Barcelona, including Adobe, Picsel, Rapid Mobile, plus some of the major handset vendors.

So you have to ask yourself: if having a client improves the experience and the effectiveness of the advertising, who is in a position to get these clients installed on a mass market basis? The most likely candidate would be the mobile operators. You could imagine a situation where all the handsets running on a particular network in a country would have a client application installed, and any advertiser on the network could take advantage of the client. Used correctly, this might in fact enable a better return from the advertisements run on that network, and thus be a good economic incentive.

Perhaps this, along with ownership of key customer personalization data, is how the operators can make sure they add value and stay a part of the value chain.


26.02.2007    Tags:
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