Coming to a Phone Near You

Sprint Nextel customers are encountering something unusual on their mobile Web pages: ads.

Marketers can now place banner ads on the landing page or deck. The Sprint Mobile Media Network is designed to offer contextual, behavioral, and demographic targeting.

According to an FCC report, competition for wireless customers has driven down the cost per call. So carriers are looking to advertisers for revenue. “What’s fascinating about all of this is it’s the beginning of what’s next for the industry,” says Michael Baker, president and CEO of Enpocket, a mobile marketing company. “And the ability to target messages effectively is really the coin of the realm.”

Sprint pledges to run ads that are relevant, nonintrusive and add value. And income from sponsors drives the creation of better services. In 2006, corporate sponsors made the Weather Channel’s Hurricane Tracker available to Sprint customers.

Other carriers are jumping onboard: Verizon Wireless will introduce banner ads this year as well.

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