In all, about 500,000 ad messages were sent out, using 565 unique advertising campaigns. About 64% of the ads sent were opened by users.
During the study, users were asked to respond to questions several times about ads they recalled seeing. The overall ad recall rate was 58%, which is about 10 times greater than the average ad recall rate for a banner ad viewed on a desktop, said Darren Tsui, CEO of Skygo. By comparison, one TV ad for ETrade Group Inc. featuring two monkeys that was shown during the Super Bowl had a recall rate of about 65%, he added.
"This wireless medium proves to be very effective for branding types of advertising, which is really just to build an awareness" of a product or company, Tsui added. "Lots of times with branding, there's no call for action, but you build confidence that this is a product you trust or rely upon."
The findings about recall rates and the effectiveness of branding over wireless devices are somewhat different from the original hypothesis, which suggested that wireless ads would be useful for driving users to go to a brick-and-mortar store and show a wireless coupon to buy something, he said.
Overall, the study showed a 2.9% purchase rate for all the ads, meaning somebody bought something after seeing the wireless ad. That rate is more than 10 times greater than the traditional purchase rate from direct mail advertising, Tsui said.
A disappointment to retailers in the study was the infrequent response by users to embedded phone numbers with ads. For example, if a phone number was listed with a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, users were reluctant to call the number, Tsui said. Less than 1% of the users clicked through to a phone number to make a call, compared with 52% who clicked through to answer trivia questions involving a product or service, he said.
The future of wireless advertising is far from established by the study, despite its many favorable findings. "The biggest downside to wireless advertising is if they price it too high, which means I wouldn't use it," Siewierski said. But so far, he hasn't seen a rate card for wireless ad prices.
Tsui and several wireless analysts said the cost of wireless advertising and location-based advertising and services are just beginning to be discussed between handset manufacturers, wireless carriers and advertisers.