Study: One In Five Teens Have Received Ads Via Cell

Teens are continuing to increase their use of both cell phones and instant messaging, and have started receiving ads on their mobile phones, according to the preliminary results of a study out of Ball State University.

The study found that 17 percent of teens have received at least one ad via cell phone. Previously, said report author Michael Hanley, an assistant professor in the journalism department at Ball State, it was difficult to find subjects who had received mobile advertising.

"Seventeen percent to me was a pretty good number," said Hanley, who added he was surprised the figure was so high, given that mobile ad recipients must affirmatively choose to receive the ads. "This should be relatively good news for the advertising industry, as they are obviously sending messages and reaching that market," Hanley said.

The "Teen Technology Survey" was conducted in two phases. The first was a written survey handed out to 180 Chicago-area high school juniors and seniors in October 2004. The second phase was an online survey, which was completed by 641 teens in 20 states during November and December 2004. Preliminary results are expected to be released Wednesday, to be followed in several weeks by a more detailed analysis.

The online participants were recruited by the Ball State American Advertising Federation student chapter members, and their friends and families. Hanley said the survey was composed of a convenience sample, and not a scientifically constructed random sample--and therefore could not be generalized to the general teen population of the United States.

The survey also complemented the trend indicated by a September study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which found that instant messaging is gaining popularity among American adults, with similar data regarding American teens. According to Hanley's survey, 84 percent of teens surveyed use instant messaging when online, and 48 percent of teens use their cell phones to send text messages. According to the Pew survey, which sampled 2,204 adults over 18, 42 percent of Internet users--roughly 53 million American adults--reported using instant messaging.

The Ball State survey also found that the teens surveyed used instant messaging more often than any other method to communicate with their friends, coming in at 40 percent--with cell phones and land lines coming in at 24 and 29 percent, respectively. Over a quarter of teens said they had used instant messaging to perform traditionally more personal communications, like asking someone out or breaking off a relationship.

The teens surveyed in the Ball State sampling resided in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The study has a plus or minus 7.3 percent margin of error.