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Consumers Open to Relevant Mobile Ads

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NEW YORK Consumers are ready to receive marketing messages on their cell phones, but only if they're relevant to their interests, according to a survey.

Roughly 80 percent of those polled said they're amenable to targeted mobile ads. About 68 percent of those interested in getting ads would be willing to provide some personal information to improve targeting.

"Consumers are ready for mobile advertising, but an important caveat: ads must be targeted," said Enpocket CEO Mike Baker, in a statement. "Operators have the demographic, transactional and behavioral data necessary to deliver marketing and advertising that meets consumer needs for relevant advertising on this most personal of devices."

Enpocket, a Boston-based mobile marketing company, commissioned a survey by Harris Interactive of 1,200 consumers already using mobile Web services in the United States, United Kingdom and India.

Mobile marketing has been slow to catch on, particularly in the U.S., which has lagged European and Asian markets in adopting data services. Research firm eMarketer projects U.S. mobile marketing spending of $220 million next year, rising to $435 million in 2009. In its "most aggressive" outlook for the new market, mobile-marketing spending would reach $760 million.

On the down side, the survey also found some consumer reticence to direct marketing via text message, the most common form of mobile advertising today: 58 percent of respondents said they preferred banner ads on mobile Web sites to text messages from brands.

Overall, the survey found mobile marketing still trails traditional media in consumer acceptance. Only 37 percent said text message ads are acceptable, compared to 74 percent for newspaper ads and 69 percent for TV commercials.