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Advertising Standards Will Support The Growth of Mobile Advertising

eran_mobixell.gifAs businesses begin to recognize the potential of mobile advertising, the need for specific guidelines in this area is becoming starkly apparent: standards are needed to gain the confidence of advertisers and ad agencies and to establish the mobile handset as a viable alternative media channel.

Eran Hertzmann, AVP for Mobile Advertising at Mobixell, has been a key contributor to the ad standards within the OMA and MMA working groups. Eran explains who is working on standards, what is the current status, and shares his views on why they are essential for market growth.

Why Standards?
Industry analysts estimate the growth of mobile advertising will continue to skyrocket – 2007’s advertising revenues of $2.7 billion are predicted to rise to a staggering $19.1 billion by 2012 . mobixell1.gifThat said, there is a general consensus amongst industry pundits that this particular market will be made or broken within the next two years. The development of widely endorsed and accepted standards on both a technological and user-oriented level is fundamental to securing a sound basis for the future growth of the mobile advertising industry.

We need to define a common understanding of what will be delivered to users which is consistent, regardless of which operator is managing the network. It is vital that the value chain for all players involved be clearly defined and expectations and inter-relationships between players fully understood in order for the business to flow freely and the lofty ambitions for this industry be fully realized.

Who’s doing what on standards?
Two industry bodies have stepped up to the mark in developing cross-industry standards to provide a framework for market growth: the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) working closely in conjunction with the GSM Association. Each is taking a different focus: the OMA looking at it from a technology standpoint and the MMA from a user experience perspective.

mobixell2.gifStandards to date have mainly focused on web browser and banner adverts but this is changing to multimedia advertising and video in particular. Estimates from Juniper Research state that SMS campaigns currently account for the largest proportion of mobile advertising budget; with nearly 1.5 billion mobile users receiving SMS advertising in 2008. But the increasing popularity of mobile TV services mean that adspend in this area will rise from just $335 million in 2008 to more than $2.5 billion in 2013.

The MMA, made up primarily of mobile operators like Vodafone, is focusing its efforts on customer experience. This covers the creative that is used in the advert through to its appearance upon delivery. The MMA has already developed guidelines for ad banners for mobile portals and is now moving onto MMS, SMS and video. The results are due to be published in the next couple of months. Mobixell has been a primary author of the messaging standards, intended to offer advertisers and their agencies clear guidelines on issues such as dimension, files size, file content.


Work carried out with ad agencies and advertisers has revealed a need to educate and assist when it comes to mobile advertising. A lack of understanding means that the potential for this diverse and flexible medium is not being realized by key players in the value chain. And to make the process more seamless, a high degree of interoperability and standardization is needed.

The other contributing body, the OMA, is a mix of major vendors and mobile operators. It has just completed a key phase in defining the architecture on which this technology will run. Looking mainly at the technology aspect of mobile advertising, it addresses the major challenge of interoperability between platforms, services providers and applications – these include personalization, interactivity and metrics to ease reporting.

mobixell4.gifThe first two of these embrace broadcast services such as TV and other content distribution services and cover issues such as location, presence, user profile, device type and configuration, as well as P2P services such as browsing and MMS, where technologies in the devices need to facilitate features like Click2call, Click2buy, voting and coupons.

The OMA wants to specify guidelines regarding advertising metadata; its description and usage, and the enhancement of user profiles with advertising preferences and formats to improve the user experience and interoperability. The end product of these deliberations – the MobAd Enabler – will provide a consistent architecture so service providers can send personalized and interactive advertising services as well as have the ability to reliably and consistently measure mobile ad effectiveness across the range of different types of adverts, whatever the format.

Why now and what remains unresolved?
Internet companies such as Google are now beginning to make the move into the mobile advertising arena, but unlike the mobile operators and device manufacturers, they do not have the luxury of existing relationships with the users. But this obvious benefit can lead to problems: customers risk becoming bombarded with irrelevant, intrusive adverts. It is the responsibility of the operators to ensure that the user experience remains a positive one.

The mobile handset offers tremendous benefits to advertisers as the only personal device offering interactive, highly targeted advertising that benefits both advertiser and consumer. The secret to unleashing this potential will be in getting the balance right and ensuring that all parties enjoy a positive and rewarding experience – I believe that the definition of industry guidelines is a key step along the road to making this happen.

Related articles:
Mobile Marketing Association Publishes Guide for Mobile Coupons

Asia-Pacific Mobile Advertising Guidelines Published by MMA

MMA Releases “Consumer Best Practices” for Mobile Content Services

MMA Publishes New EMEA Guidelines

MMA Guidelines for Mobile Advertising


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