Growing Consumer Interest in Mobile Marketing

Over the last week, we’ve seen a fair bit of coverage related to consumers’ perception of mobile marketing. So today, I’ll review the results of the Mobile Marketing Association‘s (MMA’s) annual attitude and usage study on mobile marketing effectiveness, released to MMA members in December.

The MMA’s annual attitude and usage study, conducted with market research firm Synovate, measures not only perceptions and usage for wireless and text messaging but also overall receptiveness and participation in mobile marketing initiatives. These statistics are hot off the press for ClickZ readers.

Over 1,800 consumers between the ages of 13 and 65 were queried regarding their attitudes on and usage around mobile marketing in the United States using the Synovate online ePanel. Below, a few highlights from the study.

Overall Wireless Usage

  • Forty-eight percent of the sample reported their wireless phone usage increased significantly over the last year.
  • The mobile phone has become an important part of everyday life. Seventy-nine percent of respondents report being highly to moderately dependent on the mobile phone.
  • The average consumer uses approximately 4.8 features on his mobile phone.

Text Messaging Usage

  • Text messaging is used by 69 percent of survey respondents, and 44 percent use the functionality daily (up from 41 percent in 2005).
  • Sixteen percent of respondents use text messaging for interactive voting (have you seen “Deal or No Deal” yet?)
  • Common short codes are used as the primary means for engaging in mobile marketing campaigns. Although short codes were known throughout the respondent group, the highest familiarity and usage were in the 25-34 age segment.

Perceptions on Mobile Marketing

  • Overall, consumer attitudes toward mobile marketing trended down slightly, with 21 percent reporting they’re highly or moderately interested (compared to 25 percent in 2005).
  • The youth market reported the highest rate of interest and usage, ranging from 30 to 40 percent.
  • Of the total base queried, approximately 2 percent had engaged in a mobile marketing initiative.
  • The number of respondents with experience in mobile marketing campaigns who participated in voting campaigns increased strongly from 8 percent in 2005 to 29 percent in 2006.
  • The highest regarded mobile services include downloads, coupons, and alert-based services.


Although mobile marketing participation rates may be down, mobile consumers are becoming more educated about the features and functionality of their devices and are engaging more frequently in mobile marketing campaigns. The mobile phone is becoming an essential element in a consumer’s everyday life. This increased dependency on the mobile phone is expected to lead to increased utilization.

One obstacle is the consumer belief that mobile marketing and mobile advertising involve push-based initiatives that are sent to this highly personal device on an ad hoc basis. Yet unlike e-mail or the Internet, mobile marketing is permission-based; consumers are able to proactively select the mobile initiatives they’d like to participate in. The bulk of players in the ecosystem adhere to the MMA’s guidelines and best practices, which protect consumer privacy and ensure a high-quality consumer experience based on consumer opt-in.

Education on all fronts will be paramount to our industry’s growth. “The success of mobile marketing efforts will be maximized by educating consumers on the key benefits they will realize from participation,” said Beth Ritchey, VP of tech and telecom for Synovate. “Accentuating how participation in mobile marketing will give adopters an inside track to information, savings, downloads, special offers, etc., is vital to generating interest and participation.”

Because this is a highly personal, highly available device through which marketers can now reach consumers, we must ensure we collectively educate the consumer on the guidelines and best practices to increase awareness surrounding a mobile marketing initiative.

My friend and colleague Michael Becker from iLoop Mobile points out the mobile marketing environment is best summarized by Gerry Purdy: “Probably the most important medium for advertising in the 21st century is going to be the cell phone, not print media, not billboards. It’s just a matter of time — there are just too many of them.”

The MMA’s annual attitude and usage study is available free to all MMA members.

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