Mobile users willing to watch ads for ‘free’ content

Around half of mobile phone users worldwide would be happy to watch adverts on their handsets in return for free content, according to analyst estimations released this week.

A global survey of 4,000 mobile users across 19 countries by consultancy KPMG, found that 49 per cent of respondents would be willing to watch ads on their mobiles in return for free music. Furthermore, 44 per cent would be prepared to do the same in return for free access to Instant Messaging.

Interestingly, when respondents were asked about what mobile content and services they were prepared to pay for, music and navigation tools topped the list. According to KPMG, the UK leads Europe in purchasing music via mobile, with 34 per cent of respondents having undertaken this in the last 12 months.

Tudor Aw, convergence partner at KPMG, said: “This willingness to view adverts in exchange for free content is good news for advertisers and is perhaps a pointer in the on-going debate over whether advertising or subscription is the right revenue model.” However, Aw noted that it is important for mobile service providers and advertisers to be aware of the differences in how consumers wish to access different mobile services.

“For example, mobile users have indicated that music and navigation are desirable services and they are prepared to pay for both. However, when it comes to linking advertising to these services, they will watch ads in return for music, but don’t want to be bothered with ads when using navigation services. With navigation being touted as the next big thing via mobile, this is an important consideration for business modelling,” Aw said.

“Similarly, social networking – another big area of focus for mobile providers – is not a service people are prepared to pay for on their mobiles, but the research shows people are amenable to viewing ads when undertaking social networking, so an ad supported model may be a better way to monetise this service via mobiles.”

Mobile financial transactions was another area covered by the survey, with KPMG discovering that globally, most people (53 per cent) are willing to use their mobile phone for financial transactions but only about 19 per cent currently do so.

Apparently, the primary reasons for resistance to using a phone for mobile banking are concerns over security and privacy. However, there is some good news from UK consumers for banks and mobile companies, as 77 per cent say that online banking on their mobile phone is important to them although they don’t wish to pay for it as a mobile service.

“It is interesting that these privacy and security concerns span all age groups. Even ‘Gen Y’ who have been prolific in their uptake of social networking and sharing information online, share these fears. It seems that when it comes to financial information, people are far more wary of taking risks,” said Aw.

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