Mobile users in UK hate spam, says survey

But 11% still bought products after receiving it

About two-thirds of UK mobile users hate receiving spam on their phone, according to a recently published report. But a surprisingly high 11% bought products as a result of receiving it.

Of those surveyed, 70% found mobile marketing campaigns totally irrelevant, found the survey, which was commissioned by marketing company Pontis.

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%. Within this same age group, 47% of mobile users were willing to change operators as a result — 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 a full 95% of users said that either they hated spam or that it annoyed them.

However, a survey published in May 2007 by Pew Internet found, 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 spam is now less of an irritant: “Fewer users said spam has made using email unpleasant or annoying: 63% in this survey, down from 67% in 2005, 77% in 2004, and 71% 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 points out.

He says mobile operators have a responsibility to reduce mobile phone spam in order to “capture the value from mobile advertising.”

He says 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 subscribers won’t remain customers of operators who spam them. Pontis’ marketing director Guy Talmi says “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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