The number of wildly different takes on the "success" of mobile advertising is dizzying. But the big lesson appears to be that while somebody is selling something, it's probably not to consumers through their cell phones.
Take a look at this array of pronouncements and findings about the state of the mobile advertising industry:
- According to The Kelsey Group, mobile local advertising will grow to $3.1 billion in 2013, up from $160 million last year, and mobile search will reach $2.3 billion. The same study suggests that local ad revenue would hit a low of $135.8 million next year. So the projections invoke that that most trusty of all sales forecasting tools, the hockey stick curve. It's probably useful to remember that The Kelsey Group is partnering with Yellow Pages Association, which would clearly have an interest in local advertising, on the Directional Media Strategies 2009 Conference.
- The Mobile Marketing Association, a trade group that clearly has an interest in the perceived strength of mobile advertising, says that mobile marketing will jump 26 percent this year compared to last, and that total mobile marketing will be $2.15 billion in 2010.
- Juniper Research expects strong growth in mobile advertising over the next five years, hitting $5.7 billon by 2014, but that will still be only 1.5 percent of total global spending on advertising.
- Forrester Research suggests that the percentage of marketers using mobile has flattened out at under a third and that the number planning to add mobile to their mix next year is 21 percent, down sharply from 36 percent a year ago.
This completely incoherent collection of guesses and expectations reminds me a lot of another trend I heard about back in the late 1990s: mobile commerce. Remember when every company was going to make a fortune by advertising and selling over cell phones? What happened? Nothing, that's what happened. I'm not suggesting that mobile advertising won't grow, or that it won't be successful. But I get a whiff of the hyperbole blossom, as it expands in the warmth of what people would like to believe.
Locomotive image via stock.xchng user hisks, site standard license.