'Idle Screen Insertion': Mobile Pop-Ups?

There's considerable data that shows consumers are highly ambivalent about mobile advertising. However, with approximately 230 million users in the U.S. alone and more than 2.5 billion globally, the "mobile Internet" represents a large, yet still hypothetical advertising opportunity. The equivalent of paid search (including PPCall) advertising right now has the highest probability of success, but mobile coupons are also promising.

But where does that leave brand advertisers? Putting aside mobile video pre-rolls, so-called banner blindness will likely be more prevalent in mobile, unless graphical ads can become highly targeted and/or be tied to compelling offers.

But now companies such as Mobile Posse and Acuity Mobile have developed what are being called "idle screen" ads. One way to regard these is as an alternative form of graphical advertising. Another way is as the equivalent of mobile pop-ups.

This InfoWorld piece discusses the effort:

The ads appear not when customers are using a browser, but they can pop up on the phone's idle screen any time.

These companies, such as Mobile Posse and Acuity Mobile, say they're working to ensure that the ads are so useful to customers that they won't be annoying.

Mobile Posse offers what it calls idle screen ad insertion. After downloading a small application onto a phone, users start getting advertisements that often include discount coupons on their phones.

There are numerous challenges here:

  • Likely consumer resistance or non-acceptance
  • Necessary carrier relationships
  • Download requirements

The mobile banner itself has a dubious future right now. If "idle screen" ads can be sufficiently targeted, offer deals/discounts and are opt-in there's an interesting potential opportunity for brand advertisers and others. The value proposition to consumers has to be crystal clear, however, and not remotely suggest the online pop-up -- which is roundly despised and is largely dead.

If idle screen ads can be spun as coupons or highly targeted offers, perhaps there's a future for these ads. Otherwise, they're effectively dead on arrival.