GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

August 29, 2005

I’ve recently just begun to spend a little bit of time thinking about marketing and advertising on mobile phones. With my background in online/e-mail direct marketing, I can easily see the potential power of direct marketing opportunities that the mobile phone platform offers. Obviously, members of groups like the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) see the promise as well. It seems to me, however, that most of the mobile marketing to date has been the utilization of white-labeled storefronts for brands to extend into images, ringtones, and games. Or MMS/SMS opt-in promotions. Will we ever see banner-ads or text-ads, akin to those online, enabled by advertising networks embedded into applications or even onto the deck itself? In five years will I open up my flip-phone and see an ad before I answer my call?

It seems to me that the difference between online and mobile marketing is that the consumers fundamentally view media consumption on these channels as different. Consumers expect everything online to be “free,” and thus tolerate an amount of intrusiveness from advertising. On the other hand, consumers are conscious of and willing to pay for their phones’ service and the content that goes with it. An inappropriate or ill-timed advertisement could overly disgruntle a user away from either the carrier or the marketer. The hurdle promote on a mobile phone seems like a high one which deserves careful attention of those who are pursuing these avenues. But if approached correctly, it seems like quite an opportunity. Because of this working hypothesis, I’m going to continue to spend more time here; again, it’s something that I’ve just started to think about.

  • Lomesh Dutta


    With close to 2 billion people carrying a handset with them almost 24/7, it does presents a huge oppurtunity. However, if we look at the internet or the radio or television stories.. content comes first and then advertising. Even the google example shows us that the first thing they did was to make content searchable (or in essence making a lot of content usable on the internet) and then earn advertising dollars out of it. The first thing in my opinion is how to figure out how to make content usable on this tiny devices with a 2*2 inch screen w/o a mouse. On one hand we have the Opera’s and the Skweezer’s trying to fit the web on the phone while on the other hand are the wireless carriers that are limiting your access to some 20 odd content offerings. The first step would be allow the user break free from this so that there is some content which is usable to him then comes the advertising. The ideas of advertising before answering a call or using the idle screen have been thought by several people before but who wants to watch just advertisements.

  • Steven Livingstone

    Interesting post. I think the advantage of mobile devices is that you maybe able to get location information. At the moment that would allow you to at least display relevant ads to users. The problem with ads is getting any kind of context is realy tricky (adwords doesn’t excel in that sense).

    In the future i can see “suggestions” being aimed at people as they walk down the street. Say shopping discounts as they pass a given shop or a restaurant offer. The issue is that at the moment the web is huge, but much of the advertising passes us by because it has no context for most of us (i use many US sites but the advertising is lost on me) – pervasive devices will change that.

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