March 13, 2007 5:11 PM PDT
Mobile advertising hits wireless Web first
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"There is a lot of tension growing over who owns the customer," said Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Is the carrier an impediment or a conduit? Or should content owners and handset makers have a direct relationship with customers? The realistic answer is, it has to be both."
In addition to controlling access to content, mobile operators own a billing relationship with customers, which provides a treasure trove of key demographic information that advertisers would love to use to target consumers. What's more, mobile operators are the only companies that have access to and a right to know the location of their subscribers, which could prove beneficial for selling local advertisements.
While many analysts agree that the carriers' walled gardens won't last forever, for now it's the reality of the market. And for mobile advertising to really be successful, advertisers and media companies need to work with operators to get ads on cell phone screens.
Steinberg of Fox News Channel said that his company is already in talks with its wireless partners about wrapping advertising around video clips delivered through the carrier menu or deck.
"Whether the content is accessed on deck or off deck doesn't matter so much to us as long as we are providing Fox News to users when and where they want it," he said. "So we will have to figure out a way to work with the carriers."
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