Marketers optimistic on future of mobile ads

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The prevalence of cell phones has marketers seriously considering the future of mobile. There is already an 85 percent cell phone penetration in the United States, according to pay-per-call company Ingenio. That surpasses landlines, which have 72 percent penetration.

"There is a lot of hype about mobile marketing and where it is going," said Neil Strother, an analyst at JupiterResearch, which estimates mobile reach will be at 2.9 billion by 2011. Today, mobile reach is at 171 million.

"The ad model will take off as soon as consumers don't have to pay fees for the mobile Web," said Marc Barach, chief marketing officer of Ingenio.

According to Barach, one of the most promising ad models will combine search with mobile.

David McCarthy, vice president of advertising and business at vertical search engine Miva, agrees with Barach.

"The mobile market has the advantage of learning from the online world," he said. "That market has been dominated by search and I expect the same to be true of mobile."

Some think the launch of Apple's iPhone will speed up adoption of mobile marketing as a monetization channel, but not everyone agrees.

"Mobile-marketing adoption will increase but not because of the iPhone," said Jeff Hassemer, director of product marketing at Responsys Inc., in a DM News blog post. "Even if the iPhone meets its astronomical projections, that is still less than 0.5 percent of the market."

He also wrote that Blackberrys and other phones already match many iPhone functions.

Advertisers need to optimize their Web sites for small mobile screens. Mobile Ready Entertainment Corp. created a Web site development service to convert sites for use on mobile platforms.

"Our service helps businesses make their Web site accessible to the hundreds of millions of mobile surfers around the world," said Mike Magolnick, co-CEO of Mobile Ready.

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