Cellphone screen is today's hip billboard
Ads must be targeted, relevant, and even cool
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff | February 20, 2007
In an ad-saturated world, the cellphone screen is a nearly pristine
But a number of area companies are helping to transform the device
that 220 million people are loath to leave at home into a personal,
pocket-sized billboard, hawking everything from the latest ringtone
to Fabio-favored "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!"
"We're calling the phone 'the brand in your hand' -- you're never more
than a foot away from it, 24 hours a day," said Fareena Sultan ,
associate professor of marketing at Northeastern University's College
of Business Administration. The challenge, Sultan said, will be to
produce an advertisement for the phone "that excites the person
Fueled by faster wireless networks, more capable phones, and
increasingly popular data services, the cellphone ad space is poised
to grow, according to industry watchers, and a cluster of Boston
start-ups have positioned themselves as the middlemen who bring brands
to the screen.
Boston-based Enpocket Inc. partnered with Sprint Nextel Corp. to place
banner ads on the carrier's mobile browser homepage last year. Third
Screen Media Inc. , also in Boston, builds cellphone-sized banner ads
for major brands such as Burger King Holdings Inc. , Bank of America
Corp. , and Toyota Motor Corp.
uLocate Communications Inc. in Framingham plans to unveil mobile
advertising that uses global positioning technology to send ads to
phone users in specific locations later this year. Lexington-based
Mobot Inc. used its mobile visual search -- in which users search and
browse the Web using pictures taken with a cellphone camera -- to
power a Starbucks Corp. visual scavenger hunt and Acura sweepstakes
this summer. VeriSign Inc. bought m-Qube Inc. , a Watertown company
that provided mobile marketing services, for $250 million last year.
MobileLime in Watertown turns the phone into a mobile membership card
that receives coupons and store alerts from grocery stores and