Mobile Advertising - History

History

Martin Cooper invented a portable handset in 1973, when he was a project manager at Motorola. It was almost three decades after the idea of cellular communications was introduced by Bell Laboratories. Two decades later, cellular phones made a commercial debut in the mass market in the early 1990s. In the early days of cellular handsets, phone functionality was limited to dialing, and voice input/output.

When the second generation of mobile telecoms (so-called 2G) was introduced in Finland by Radiolinja (now Elisa) on the GSM standard (now the world's most common mobile technology with over 2 billion users) in 1991, the digital technology introduced data services. SMS text messaging was the first such service. The first person-to-person SMS text message was sent in Finland in December 1994. SMS (Short Message Service) gradually began to grow, becoming the largest data service by number of users in the world, currently with 74% of all mobile subscribers or 2.4 billion people active users of SMS in 2007.

One advantage of SMS is that while even in conference, users are able to send and receive brief messages unobtrusively, while enjoying privacy. Even in such environments as in a restaurant, café, bank, travel agency office, and so on, the users can enjoy some privacy by sending/receiving brief text messages in an unobtrusive way.

It would take six years from the launch of SMS until the first case of advertising would appear on this new data media channel, when a Finnish news provider offered free news headlines via SMS, sponsored by advertising. This led to rapid experimentation in mobile advertising and mobile marketing, and the world's first conference to discuss mobile advertising was held in London in 2000, sponsored by the Wireless Marketing Association (which later merged into the Mobile Marketing Association). The first books to discuss mobile advertising were Ahonen's M-Profits and Haig's Mobile Marketing in 2002. Several major mobile operators around the world launched their own mobile advertising arms, like Aircross in South Korea, owned by the parents of SK Telecoms the biggest mobile operator, or like D2 Communications in Japan, the joint venture of Japan's largest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo and Dentsu, Japan's largest ad agency.

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