Television-style advertising is coming to a mobile phone near you. It is part of a broader push by marketers to create a new generation of “up close and personal” ads by delivering video, audio, banner displays and text clips over a device carried by most American adults.
Marketers said they were particularly excited about the prospect of eventually using cellphones, many of which are equipped with global positioning systems, to send ads to consumers based on their location. With that information, marketers could, in theory, send pitches from retailers to cellphone users who might be in the vicinity of a store.
Cellphone-based marketing could be “the silver bullet we’ve been looking for in advertising for a long time,” said Laura Marriott, executive director of the Mobile Marketing Association, a consortium of wireless carriers, ad agencies, technology companies and advertisers.
But ads on cellphones pose serious concerns, say consumer advocacy groups. Critics argue that Madison Avenue, having plastered ads on all kinds of empty spaces – like billboards, building facades and the sides of buses – may soon be intruding on a gadget that has become as common as a wallet.
“This is part of the creep of advertising into every nook and cranny of our lives,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a nonprofit consumer group. “This is advertising right in your face.”