WindWire: Users Ready, Willing for WAP Banners

Wireless ad network and marketing firm WindWire Monday unveiled findings from its two-month-long mobile advertising study, providing some statistics behind consumers’ readiness to accept WAP advertising.

The program was designed to study consumers’ responses to pull advertising — that is, banner ads that are “pulled” by users when they request Web or WAP pages. The study aimed to learn something about reporting mechanisms and ad formats.

During September and October, WindWire served two million banner ad impressions to sites in its WAP network.

The findings show that 19 percent of users responded to ads designed to elicit clickthroughs, while 12 percent responded to ads on which a click generated a phone call. Average wireless ad recall rate was 46 percent, while 24 to 86 percent indicated that they were likely to make a purchase after viewing a wireless ad.

Separately, WindWire retained a third-party firm to poll 260 consumers. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred ad-subsidized wireless content over fee-based content or didn’t care. And 64 percent expressed concerned with privacy issues.

Of course, while potentially helpful for marketers planning a foray into the wireless space, the results also vindicate WindWire’s model. The company serves wireless banner ads, and in some senses, competes for the marketing dollar against other forms of wireless advertising, like SMS messaging and WAP alerts.

WindWire also is one of a number of mobile marketing technology plays hoping to promote the emerging medium with studies.

Another firm, SkyGo, is running similar tests in Boulder, Colo., and is promoting its own services, which include SMS and WAP alerts. SkyGo recently unveiled findings that suggested that consumers like these forms of messaging — also known as “push” ads in that they are distributed, or “pushed,” to users like email — enough that they would consider changing carriers to receive them.

Despite SkyGo’s touting of “push” ads, WindWire sees “pull” ads — banners and interstitials requested or “pulled in” with users’ content request — as more crucial to the development of the wireless Web.

During the course of the World Wide Web’s development, ad-sponsored content largely replaced the fee-based model. Now, WindWire cites that fact to suggest that it’s going to happen again. Ads “eventually subsidized the cost of content,” said Billy Purser, senior marketing manger at the Morrisville, North Carolona firm. “And we feel the wireless Web is going to be same the same situation.”

“In order to transition to the wireless Web, they must support themselves somehow, build a revenue model. Pull advertisements can help do that. And I think this report helps validate that model.”

Of course, with some big Web publishers like Yahoo giving indications that they plan to make fee-based content a larger portion of their offerings, the issue seems to be in question.

But that seems to be less of a concern to the embryonic wireless ad industry. WindWire’s ads were delivered on sites in its ad network, including TheWeatherGuys.com, ResturantRow.com, NandoMedia’s Raleigh News and Observer wireless site, and others. Advertisers participating in the study included the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, Midway Airlines, and wireless ISP GoAmerica.

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