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SMS Mobile Ads Preferred by Consumers

A new Harris Interactive study on people's attitudes toward the economy and technology reveals that over one-third of U.S. consumers say the dire economy will not affect their spending habits.

The majority (60 percent) of consumers who will now limit their discretionary spending will curtail going out to restaurants (74 percent) and limit their purchase of electronics (71 percent), among other choices like buying fewer clothes and taking fewer vacations.

One shining light for marketers interested in reaching fickle consumers during this economic downturn is the finding that a significant number of consumers (41 percent) have no plans to stop or cut-back on the purchase of cell phones.

Moreover, engaging a consumer's attention through their mobile devices is seen as an increasingly viable advertising channel. To many, it seems the use of mobile phones has become an indispensable part of their lives.

According to a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics, 16 percent of U.S. homes are using wireless phones exclusively -- more than double the amount from the same period in 2004.

These trends support the push by marketers to leverage mobile advertising as part of an integrated marketing program to promote their brands and sell products and services, Harris analysts conclude -- especially during difficult economic times.

The research indicates that mobile advertising, especially via mobile phones, can gain a foothold among this large and growing group if it is unobtrusive, targeted toward an individual's personal tastes and offers something unique.

Among teens surveyed, over half (56 percent) said they would be interested in viewing mobile ads with incentives, while over one-third (37 percent) of adults noted that they would be receptive to such advertising.

Survey respondents were asked to identify the best mobile advertising incentives. Cash is first, with 80 percent of adults and 70 percent of teens identifying it as the top incentive for responding to mobile advertising. Entertainment downloads (61 percent), free music (57 percent) and complimentary minutes (53 percent) also are popular incentives among teens.

Among adults, free minutes (49 percent) and discount coupons (37 percent) are appealing incentives. Free entertainment (31 percent) and free music (24 percent) also captured the attention of adults.

In terms of how these incentives should best be delivered, the Harris Interactive research indicates text messaging (SMS) is the most preferred advertising approach among over two-thirds (69 percent of adults and 64 percent of teens) of consumers.

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