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Mobile phone spam working in the UK

UK mobile users don't hate spam, says survey

Mobile phone users aren't as averse to spam as previously thought, according to a new survey which claims that 11 percent of mobile owners have bought products as a result of receiving spam.

Nearly two-thirds of mobile users are fed up with mobile phone spam, found the survey, which was commissioned by marketing company Pontis. 70 percent of those surveyed found mobile marketing campaigns totally irrelevant to them.

According to Pontis, mobile operators are "failing to capture the imagination of the baby boomer generation", although the survey shows that younger people, from teenagers to 34-year-olds, are almost as irritated by mobile spam, at 72 percent. Within this same age group, 47 percent of mobile users were willing to change operators as a result. The survey was conducted by GfK NOP over the telephone between 20-22 July. 752 mobile phone users aged 16+ were interviewed in the UK across a range of ages, said Pontis.

This is roughly in-line with people's attitudes towards earthbound email spam, which have changed in recent years. A survey, commissioned by TACD and produced by European Research into Consumer Affairs in 2003, found that a full 95 percent of users said that either they hated spam or that it annoyed them.

However, a survey published in May 2007 by Pew Internet found that, while users are receiving more spam, it bothers them less. It found that: "Users also report less exposure to pornographic spam, which to many people is the most offensive type of unsolicited email. Spam has not become a significant deterrent to the use of email, as some observers speculated it might when unsolicited email first began flooding users' in-boxes several years ago."

The Pew Internet survey is conducted annually and confirmed that spam is now less of an irritant: "Fewer users said spam has made using email unpleasant or annoying: 63 percent in this survey, down from 67 percent in 2005, 77 percent in 2004, and 71 percent in 2003." The reasons are that there's less pornographic spam today, that users are more accustomed to dealing with it, and that they have methodologies and technologies to manage it.

Few of those issues apply to mobile spam, where users are entirely reliant on their mobile operator to manage unwanted communications. What's more, users pay to receive spam through their paid-for bandwidth allowances.

This could make it doubly annoying to receive spam originating from the operator, as Lorcan Burke, CEO of mobile security specialist AdaptiveMobile pointed out. He said that mobile operators have a responsibility to reduce mobile phone spam in order to "capture the value from mobile advertising".

He said that: "(Mobile) operators are encouraging their own commoditisation by even starting to expose the user's phone numbers to content and application providers." We think that means that subscribers won't remain customers of operators who spam them.

Pontis' marketing director Guy Talmi said "it shows that (the operators') inability to tailor services and content to the individual user's interests and situation is not only failing to attract new revenue streams but - even worse - it's alienating their customer base."


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