Today, Virgin Mobile announced what anyone in the cellphone industry could have predicted: ad subsidized cell phone calls. Users of the service will be able to earn free calls by viewing and “responding” to advertisements by way of text messaging.
Advertisers have long known that a person who interacts with the ad is much more likely to be affected by the ad. This applies especially to those who are most impressionable: teens. But not only are teens the most impressionable, they are also the most likely to be using the Virgin phone service, and the most likely to need the free calls if Mommy and Daddy aren’t paying for them. Not surprisingly, early advertisers include Pepsi and XBox, both of which have traditionally targeted the teen generation.
But all this talk of cellphone advertising brings me to the main topic of this post: are cellphones the next major market for Google Ads? AdWords currently litter the web, present on almost every website looking to make a profit. They are Google’s cashcow. Google’s main business strategy is based around them: increase the amount of users who get online, see Google Ads and click on Google Ads.
For a while, they’ve been relying on the general growth of internet usage, but to keep up with shareholder demand, they are quickly having to branch out into other spaces and other ad mediums with which they are less familiar. Radio has been tried, though rumors are that Google is facing a tough nut to crack in that market. The other obvious ad medium is the cell phone. Hundreds of millions of people use them. In fact, more people use cellphones than use the internet. My grandfather uses a cellphone. He’s never touched the internet.
So cellphones present a huge market for Google. The big question is whether they’ll be able to become the jack of all trades in the marketing world, or whether they are stuck in the narrow world of internet search and publishing forever.