InternetUniversity: Local Mobile Search

by Jun 24, 2005, 2:07 PM
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By Anthony Muller

If you don't believe that shifting technology changes the face of advertising, consider this: Back in March, Pepsi relaunched its low-calorie brand, Pepsi One, without spending a single dollar on TV ads. Pepsi's rationale: Why pay for expensive TV time when folks with TiVo or other digital video recording software are just going to fast-forward through your ad?

As the ways in which consumers use technology evolve, so do the ways they shop and seek services. The best example of this at the moment might be how America's ever-expanding legions of cell phone users are solving the directory-assistance problem.

One solution would be through text messaging as a delivery medium for information on local businesses. While browser-enabled search has been slow to catch on, due to its glacial response time and cumbersome navigation, local search technology with text messaging gets results in seconds.

The future of local mobile search is bright, although a tad uncertain. Providing access to information on a cell phone user's location, income, and search history, mobile wireless devices could become conduits for targeted ads. However, unless laws restricting wireless advertising change, users would have to opt in before they could receive such messages. That means advertisers would need to find new, creative, and engaging ways of delivering their pitches - ones that don't rely on graphics or insult users' intelligence. Only time will tell if advertisers are up to the challenge.

Another impediment to widespread adoption of local mobile search is the carriers and their unwillingness to allow anyone else (like software developers or ad servers) to earn a buck off their network without giving the carriers a cut. Do the service providers have the vision to determine that what might be necessary for their networks to realize their full revenue-generating potential is a little willingness to share the wealth? Film, as they say, at 11.

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