Sunday, March 2, 2008

Now Even My Cell Phone is Selling

Some eight years ago I worked with a major cell phone company in an experiment that I’m not very proud of. I was an eager marketer with a credit union that shall remain unnamed (no silly it wasn’t Coors Credit Union that would just be too obvious and dumb.) Anyway, we sent advertisements about car loans and other fabulous (really!) financial services to cell phones (ugh!). Needless to say it wasn’t very successful. Tracking was hideous and blah, blah, blah. It was one of those things that I thought was cool at the time but at the same time also felt a little slimy. The cell phone company assured me that the people using their phones were informed and had asked for the advertising. Yeah, right. Realize that eight years ago was early 2000. Privacy was just starting to become a household word and the term “opting-in” wasn’t even coined. It wasn’t long before the ick factor danced in my dreams of other gross things and so I dropped the cell phone invasion experiment. (See good will always prevail.)

And then two weeks ago I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night. See I don’t use a clock in my bedroom (isn’t this nice, you’ll learn all kinds of intimacies here.) I like to use my cell phone as an alarm clock cause it has three alarms so I can start waking up about an hour before I actually have to. But, anyway, so my cell phone makes a strange sound around 2:35 a.m. I jump up to see I have a text message. I can’t remember it exactly but it was something for Viagra. Now in some rare case and for someone else this might have been handy timing. But um, no.

Fortunately there is an easy way to get rid of this annoyance. I called my carrier, Verizon, and they not only sympathized but showed their outrage and laughed along with me then walked me through some steps online that gave me control to manage removal of this and other kinds of marketing from my phone. It took about 2 minutes or less.

Cell phone advertising is really a natural. Anything a marketer can do to get in front of a captive audience is fair game. It’s also an invasion of privacy. A recent CBS article states that the research firm eMarketer estimates that U.S. spending in mobile ads, at about $900 million in 2007, will grow more than fivefold to nearly $4.8 billion in 2011.

What really irks me about cell phone advertising is that I pay a pretty penny for use of this thing and I don’t want anyone sending me stuff I don’t want. And I never want anyone to know anything about me, because I’m a very private person. You should be too.

So pull up your to do list (mine is on my cell phone) and add “Call Cell Phone Carrier About Managing Privacy Settings and Marketing Options”.

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