Ads are now on cellular airwaves, study says

Aside from bombarding the general public with billboards, commercials, radio ads, and unrelentless spam to e-mail, advertisers have found a new, yet uninhibited medium for advertising-the cellular phone.

A recent study conducted at Ball State University showed that 25 percent of Ball State students owning a cell phone have received “spim,” or spam on their Instant Messenger.

“This surge in wireless communications is opening a Pandora’s Box for advertisers to target the elusive college student,” said Michael Hanely, an advertising professor and the author of the study. “Many advertisers see the cell phone as the best way to reach a segment of the market that traditionally has been hard to reach.”

With the use of instant and text messaging becoming more popular, advertisers by nature seek to effectively bombard the market. Nearly 90 percent of the ads that students actually remembered came from pornographic Web sites.

Verizon Wireless customer Ali VanDorn says that she hasn’t received any unsolicited text messages except from Verizon Wireless. “I would be pretty upset if I started receiving spam on my phone. I pay for it, and every time I open a text message, it costs me money,” she said. A nationwide phone survey of 1,460 cell phone users, conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, shows that 27 percent of the 134 million Americans who own cell phones use text messaging.

The study also showed that 97 percent of college students had a cell phone, 68 percent sent text messages, and 14 percent sent instant messages.

Customer service agents at Verizon Wireless said that text message advertising occurs with every service provider, but most have an option to block ads and certain numbers at no extra cost. The study confirmed the information.

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