Wireless Ads Are an Unnecessary Evil

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-02-12 Print this article Print

Oh, that wacky wireless world. Wireless carriers can't figure out the right way to put ads on the wireless network without angering their customers.

Oh, that wacky wireless world. Wireless carriers cant figure out the right way to put ads on the wireless network without angering their customers. They should stop trying. Last month, advertisers, carriers and service providers met to see why consumers in the United States resist ads. They concluded that more technology was needed to provide better-quality ads that hit their targets.

I dont blame them for their efforts. The wireless industry is a new arena for advertising. Cell phones are almost always on, they provide the capability to send location information back to the service provider, and their audience is captive.

More important, cell phone service providers have access to users demographic information.

Thats the theory. In reality, cell phone advertising is a disgusting trend. Think of what might happen in New York as thousands are injured every day following their cell phone ads across midtown to a new trendy restaurant. In Silicon Valley, ads for high-tech toys like Ginger and Aibo might paralyze the Valley altogether. In rural areas, social catastrophes will emerge after Kmart Blue Light Specials are beamed to unsuspecting users phones. Oh, I forgot—rural areas simply dont get digital signals, making all-wireless ads unrealistic.

Face it. We dont really want or need more ads. We fundamentally understand their value, but they have become increasingly invasive in the past couple of years. Take television, for example, where ads now bracket the closing credits of most programs. On Web sites such as CNet and MSNBC, ads pop up in the middle of articles.

Now well be faced with ads popping up on our cell phones and handheld devices at the most inappropriate times. Nothing could be more irritating.

Sure, there are a few consumers out there who may find that a highly targeted ad might make their lives more interesting. But then the ads will offend those übershoppers significant others, who will have to deal with someones unbridled enthusiasm over hype and technology.

Unfortunately, its something were going to have to get used to. Although wireless ads arent such a hot idea here, they are popular in Japan and Europe, where wireless access equals Internet access. Wireless carriers have paid a lot for their wireless spectrums. Although those carriers resist carrying ad traffic now, as soon as those bills come due, Im sure theyre going to keep a more open mind.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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