FTC Airs Mobile Marketing’s Dirty Laundry

Security and privacy were the overriding issues at “Beyond Voice: Mapping the Mobile Marketplace,” a two-day town hall meeting held by the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., this week.

“The emerging mobile marketplace raises a host of opportunities as well as a host of consumer protection challenges,” said FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz. Those challenges include improper disclosure of fees as well as issues involving privacy and spam.

The event, attended by as many as 250 people on the first day alone, included panelists representing the mobile industry, academia, consumer interest and privacy groups, and the government. On day one, topics covered included mobile commerce, messaging, games and social interaction on mobile platforms, location-based services, and mobile advertising and marketing. The second day tackled more sensitive topics such as security and privacy.

Cautionary words directed towards advertising involved fees and spam. “Some folks don’t mind a few ads, especially if they get free services, or a lower monthly bill in return, but recent surveys have found that most consumers are annoyed, and this shouldn’t surprise anyone, when those ads appear on mobile devices,” Leibowitz said. Ads, he added, are particularly annoying when they interfere with the use of those devices.

Companies seen as breaking ground in the mobile space, like Procter & Gamble, still view themselves as being in the test-and-learn phase, said Jean Berberich, digital marketing innovation manager of mobile at P&G. The mobile channel is rarely used as a standalone advertising vehicle, but complements traditional channels. Enid Burns, The ClickZ Network, reports