I have had this discussion with a number of people – and again today with a person working for an Operator.
My view is .. Unless Operators change their current thinking, they will not dominate Mobile advertising .. (and as a caveat I believe that Mobile advertising will be very big in the next few years .. )
Here are five reasons why
a) People don’t buy music from their electricity company .. i.e. the Telco brand is basically not suited to media(and hence by extension –advertising). The customers know this – and many in the Operator community also recognise this.
Thus inspite of good intentions, the world of media and advertising does not come as naturally to a Telco exec as does networks and devices. Customers will never see an Operator as a cool brand(and by extension be reluctant to accept advertising from such a brand)
2) Operator portals have never quite taken off. This means advertisers don’t really have a property to advertise on
3) The operator’s x million customers don’t really equate to eyeballs. This is a big problem. Yes an operator has x million customers. A very small portion of these use data services(excluding SMS). Even smaller numbers use their own portals
4) The operator does not grasp the concept of self service and long tail.. Whichever way you look at this, the mobile advertising market is in a nascent phase. The top down heavy handed approach does not work for this stage. See Crossing the chasm with the long tail: Mobile web 2.0, mobile advertising, user generated content for a more detailed explanation as to why this is the case.
5) Most importantly, while the Operator ponders – others grab this space BIG time. So, a market exists – it’s just that the Operators are not getting anything there(and this is before Google has entered the fray!). Admob continues to go stratospheric with about 8 billion ads served in total and averaging 1.5 billion ads a month. Itsmy (gofresh) serves 250millionth Mobile Internet Ad
Both are 100% mobile web and 100% off portal.
Contrast this with very few operators who will release stats for their portals!!
So .. I think
a) Mobile advertising will be huge .. there is direct evidence for this for ex: admob and itsmy
b) Unless the Operators change their current thinking, their share will be very low