Traditional advertising is under threat, writes Riaan Groenewald, operations director at Multimedia Solutions.

The personal video recorder (PVR) is just one example of consumers losing patience with advertising. They’re not the only ones though. Spiralling print and broadcasting prices for advertising is pushing traditional advertising out the reach of many companies’ budgets and into something resembling an expensive art from.
And the practical void that advertising is leaving is being filled by mobile technology which is proving to be more agile, direct and cost-effective.
Consider the time it takes to generate a TV or print campaign.
First, one needs an agency to create the campaign; then there is the conceptual work, the creation of the specific content and the booking of airtime, or space in print/online publications. The process of start to finish can take anything from weeks to months. Furthermore, the company has to align its business with the campaign, particularly for retail stores who use their marketing to move stock.
However, mobile technology is offering a far more direct and agile way of communicating because a company communicates with consumers, partners or employees through their cellphone.
Let’s make this practical: a retailer at the start of a week wants to have a sale that Saturday. Using broadcasting or print media to publicise the sale would be impossible. Online advertising could be a possibility but high-volume sites would most likely have already sold their advertising space for that week.
So how could they inform, say, 10 000 customers in a mere week that there’s a sale on? Simple – communicate via cellphone. In contrast to other mediums, an interactive MMS campaign with voice over, graphics and text can be created within two working days.
Distribution to the base of MMS enabled handsets (registered handsets are verified first) could be done in a further two days and by the weekend, over 90% of the base would most likely have read about the sale with an added knock-on effect given the viral nature of mobile marketing.
In addition, mobile technology is giving power to the receiver because unlike other forms of marketing, consumers are getting a choice with mobile advertising and marketing on whether they want to accept it or not.
Furthermore, the consumer can unsubscribe from the service at any time. Neither television, radio nor print offers these options.
And because mobile marketing is measurable, companies wanting to communicate with a base can receive real time reporting including when messages are delivered, who opens them, which numbers fail to receive the MMS and which recipients reject the message.
Mobile also reaches a bigger market. It is difficult to say how many people have cellphones, but the three cellphone networks together claim to have a combined base of over 36-million subscribers in 2007.
Compare that to TV and radio audiences. According to the South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF), its 2006 AMPS (All Media and Products Survey) estimated there to be more than 24,5-million adult viewers, while there were more than 28,5-million radio listeners. Importantly, these figures represent people who watched TV or listened to the radio once in the space of a week. Running campaigns to this group of people takes time for the message to saturate the market.
Globally, cellphones clearly have the greatest penetration of devices. There are close to 2,5-billion active cellphones, compared to an estimated 900-million Internet users and a billion television sets.
Mobile technology is therefore changing the way companies communicate and is giving the choice to the consumer on what they want to receive when it comes to marketing and advertising material.