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Mobile advertising spending booms thanks to smartphones, but consumers fail to act on them

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Mobile advertising has experienced a staggering 116% year on year growth (on a like for like basis), up from 32% growth in 2009. Advertisers spent £83 million on mobile advertising in 2010, according to the third annual IAB and PwC mobile study.

But you wouldn’t know it if you listen to the consumers. Research by ad network InMobi has found that 40% of consumers say that mobile adverts have actively changed their purchasing decisions – which means that 60% have not had their minds swayed by mobile ads.

InMobi has also found that, looking at the UK market as a bell weather for all others, of the 77 million mobile phone owners, 28 million are on data plans and 5 million of those actually prefer mobile as the channel to buy clothes, consumer electronics and content.

That means that there are 5million people out there who actually buy through mobile as a preference. So, doing the maths, that means 40% of these guys – that’s 2 million people who will actually respond – or act on – mobile advertising. The ad spend on mobile may be growing, but it seems that there is a long way to go convince the punters.

The key is that many companies that look at mobile advertising don’t look at it in the right way, suggests Claire Valoti, head of online display and mobile at agency Mindshare. “Insight first: that’s my mantra on mobile advertising,” she says. “You have to understand the audience for the mobile advert and what is being advertised. One of the best is Tiffany, which realised that men buy wedding and engagement rings and that that process is a private and personal one: something that mobile is ideal for. It ran a very successful campaign on mobile – led by insight.”

It is also worth noting that many brands view mobile as an ad channel: it isn’t, it is part of all the other channels used to market products and services, believes Valoti. “people have to stop thinking in mobile and think how mobile fits with what they are trying to achieve.”

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