Cellphones to Be Top Ad Medium, Omnicom Boss Predicts

07 April 2005

You don't get to be chief executive of BBDO Worldwide without knowing thing or two. Ask Andrew Robertson, incumbent of that exalted post.

And one of the things (or two) Robertson knows is that cellphones and other wireless communication devices will soon become the most important medium for advertisers to reach techno-savvy consumers. Even toppling TV, he predicts.

Believes the BBDO boss: "We are rapidly getting to the point where the single most important medium that people have is their wireless device. It's with them every single moment of the day. It's genuinely the convergence box that everyone has been talking about for so many years."

Robertson's fervid evangelistism props up a new report from the planet's third largest agency network. This claims that consumers are now more willing to live without television than mobile phones or home computers.

BBDO polled nearly 3,000 typical consumers across fifteen countries, asking them to nominate the communications device they would most want to keep.

Right now home computers top the technopops, forty-five per cent of the sample opting for this device. But straining at the leash are cellphones, 31% of respondents saying they would suffer nervous tics if deprived of that device. Only 12% would miss their TVs.

And in China cellphones topped the list with 61% while only 4% opted for televisions - possibly less of an endorsement for the former than a critique of programme content in the latter. Thirty per cent of the comrades preferred their home computers.

More than 60% of the sample said they kept their phones switched on and within reach for 21 to 24 hours daily, while an antisocial minority (15%) did so for a mere 16-20 hours a day.

But, warns Robertson, cellphone users are unaccustomed to commercial interruptions - unlike TV viewers. To reach the former audience, agencies will have to develop ad content so captivating that phone freaks will it seek out.

Continued the BBDO evangelist: "You have no way to interrupt because they can choose what they can do. The opportunity is if you can create some content that they want to engage with, they can do that all of the time from anywhere."

But don't fire the TV-buying team yet awhile!

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff