by Mike Masnick

Why Verizon Wireless' Mobile Ads Are A Non-Story

from the mountains-out-of-molehills dept

Late Sunday night, the New York Times put out an article announcing that Verizon is going to "allow" ads on its mobile phones. From a headline standpoint, that sounds interesting -- but it's got a lot of problems (and we won't even bother getting into the difference between Verizon and Verizon Wireless). The details suggest a really, really, really minor change in policy for Verizon Wireless -- not the big significant deal the NYTimes (and others) have made it out to be. Like most mobile operators who offer data services on their phones, they have their own exceptionally limited portal (which acts more like a walled garden than a portal). All that Verizon Wireless is doing is starting to sell some ad slots within that mobile portal that doesn't get all that much usage anyway (and will get less and less usage once users finally make Verizon Wireless realize that it needs to tear down its walls and let people just surf the web on their phones). Yet, because the headline sounds so interesting, it's become a hot topic in the blogworld, with lots of commentary about how Verizon is going to start pumping intrusive advertising your way. So, for those of you getting worried based on the headline and some of the commentary: no, Verizon Wireless is not about to pump intrusive ads into your life. They're just putting ads on their mobile portal, which you probably don't use anyway, and if you do, you'll probably barely notice them.

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  • identicon
    AJ, 26 Dec 2006 @ 11:25pm

    VZW ads

    Using the mobile phone to present advertising to persons standing near the mobile phone user instead of the mobile phone user him/herself will be welcomed by mobile phone users if they are given something in exchange for allowing their phone to be used as a mini-billboard (e.g. free/discounted talk time). In this way the advertiser will likely reach the same demographic as the user ("birds of a feather",etc.) and make more than one impression per presentation. Additionally, people still use their phones to predominantly talk to others, and so the frequency of presenting to others (by using the rear facing screen, or the main screen that can be positioned to face outward) will likely surpass the number of times a user is looking up a place to eat, etc. to then be presented with an advertisement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LML, 26 Dec 2006 @ 11:25pm

    Mobile Ads on VZW's Network

    I don't think many subs are going to be very happy to see advertising on their mobile phones, particularly @ the price levels VZW presently charges for their data service. It's too expensive a service to start peddling commerce onto the consumer without first giving the consumer a choice whether or not to accept the advertising in exchange for a steeply discounted data plan (i.e. less than $10/mo). The mobile phone is a much MORE personal device than the PC. You take it everywhere; its hardly ever shared. Advertising on mobile phones will be met with more consumer resistance than advertising on the PC. It's my view that the carriers who are the gatekeepers to content delivered to the mobile phone will tread slowly. But the point of the NYT article is to highlight what might be the first step of a very slippery slope.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2006 @ 12:26am

    Remeniscent of when Cable first came out and they didn't have adverts.

    Fortunately, unlike Cable, Wireless isn't a natural monopoly. Time to revolt as customers, viva la revolution!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Dec 2006 @ 12:30am

    Service Provider..?

    Hmm. Interesting. What these guys don't seem to understand is that they are a "Service Provider". If their "Service" is to drive me to be more and more into the endless spiral of consumerism, I may have to re evaluate the value of the "service" they are providing me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DV Henkel-Wallace, 27 Dec 2006 @ 2:53am

    Most of the blog commentary is confused

    As has been (fortunately? Unfortunately? You decide) decided in the courts already, you aren't permitted to rewrite pages to substitute your own ads (any more than you can enclose someone else's page in a frame and re-serve it). So this could only apply to Verizon's own useless sites.

    Of course the user can make this substitution (or just block ads) in his or her browser so what's to say that by signing up for their transport service you aren't asking them to change the ads for you? In fact they could claim that they discount (har har) the transport fees in exchange for showing you their ads!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    EXrider, 27 Dec 2006 @ 6:16am

    RE: Most of the blog commentary is confused

    Of course the user can make this substitution (or just block ads) in his or her browser

    Uh, you must not be a Verizon Wireless customer. Their shitty, featureless, Openwave browser doesn't allow you to block ad's, let alone even disable images.

    In addition, Verizon's phones only run signed "BREW" code as well, therefore you can only install (subscribe) to applications that Verizon offers you through their get-assraped-now service, which doesn't include alternative browsers like Opera.

    What I don't get is:

    • The screen is already too damn small for useful browsing, LET'S CRAM ADS ON IT!!!

    • Last I heard, you either paid out of your minutes, or per-kb for mobile web. I hope they find a way to keep ads from counting against you (riiight).

    I'd be all for it if it benefited the consumer in some way; like maybe giving me free access to news + adverts in their little "walled garden". I seriously doubt that'll happen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    rkrueger, 27 Dec 2006 @ 8:26am

    Cell Phone Advertising - Big Story

    I disagree with the premise that the NY Times article on Verizon's move to sell mobile ads is a non story. I think it points to the growing number of users going to these mobile portals, which suggests that mobile Internet is finally taking hold in the US. Now, when will Verizon and the other operators offer a cell phone interface that makes web surfing easier? That would be a much bigger story.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    leo, 27 Dec 2006 @ 10:57am

    Separation Between Pipe & Content

    I think this gives us a lot to worry about. First, the article mentioned that most people use these "decks" as their primary form of surfing. Already a bad sign.

    But the big problem here is separating the pipe and the content. Between those two there ought to be a huge wall. Otherwise the Telco's will only look at their cell phone services as ways to jam their own crap content down your throats.

    Imagine how this would have played out in the old days of POTS.

    The biggest problem with the Times article was that it included NO voice from a consumer protection or privacy perspective. Imagine that...

    The only thing it mentioned as holding things back were the qualms of the Verizon Wireless COO ("we listen to our customers" -- yeah right, typical corporate crap). If that's all there is holding things back, we're really in trouble.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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