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February 03, 2010


simon andrews

I'm a huge believer in mobile but I just can't see this - the idea that one fifth of the people who looked at that screen chose to click to get more info on a Ford is too good to be true. Isn't it likely that at least some of those clicks were mistakes?
In 96 we did a homepage takeover of a car website and got 90% clickthrough - the vast majority being people who were trying to close the damn thing so they could get to the content.
And having been involved with the web since the early days experience suggests that clcikthrough rates only go one way over time - down - so we need to make a more substantial case for mobile, otherwise the very real merits of mobile risk being dismissed as hype.

Mark Hawkins

Have you looked into the Idle Screen technology here, Tomi? I could be confused or missing something, but its differentiator from basic (potentially WAP Push) messaging seems vague. And how is it known when the device isn't being used?

The Idle Screen fascinates me as a potential platform, so I had a little look and still couldn't quite fathom it.

Happy to be put right!


I agree with Simon when he says it may be a click by mistake and that it will become less effective over time. It certainly is effective because of the originality which will fade as it becomes common place. I do however agree that it is fantastic real estate. I certainly look at my idle screen several times a day. However, I would like to see citation for the once every 11 minutes statistic.

C. Enrique Ortiz

Idle/home screen... if done right, great piece of real-estate indeed.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi simon, Mark, Scott, and CEO

Thanks for writing. Will respond to each of you individually as usual.

simon - good comment. It seems to be that you've been in the internet advertising business nearly as long as I have haha, and come with a lot of knowledge of it. And you say you believe strongly in mobile. I would guess that you probably come from the US market and may not know how powerful mobile can be. That 20% rate is not exceptionally good, it is rather poor in fact.

There may well have been some accidential use, especially with a new technology (idle screen). But - note that 20% is on the very low end of responsiveness to well-done 'engagement marketing' based ie non-interrputive ads (not banners, spam SMS, pre-roll etc stupid copies of the legacy PC internet - even these poor copies do 10x better than the internet but get about 5% response rates). Across several thousand engagement marketing campaigns by the global giant brands on mobile phones across four continents, the response rates tend to be between 25% and 40%. When its thousands of documented campaigns across several years and in dozens of countries, by mainstream brands not just nerdy web and tech brands, ie Mastercard, L'Oreal, Coca Cola, Audi etc; it is also very legitimate today. So 20% is actually 'poor' performance compared to other more targeted and better designed campaigns like on MMS where its easy to top 30%.

Mark - I have not looked at the explicit way the idle screen was done in this Ford campaign, no. I do know it differentiates from WAP push in that WAP push needs to be activated by the user and is often delivered via SMS or MMS (and can also by the way be delivered by idle screen of course). But WAP push requires user activation to get to your WAP page and is obviously then consuming a WAP session until that WAPsite and connection is shut off. Idle screen is a deeper application on the UI of the phone, so it requires the handset maker of OS (or user app) to be installed that keeps the idle screen active and collects data from the source for the idle screen from time to time (in case of news, queried rather regularly or as being pushed)

But I am not a real expert on the technology, I can't help you much further than highlight some of the emerging solutions in this space, no doubt the NTT DoCoMo i-Channel is one of the most advanced as they have the most experience with it.

Scott - good point, while mobile advertising (and now engagement marketing) is starting to be commonplace, idle screen certainly is new and has that element of fascination with the new. I would also argue it is so new, that we haven't fully utilized its benefits yet.

As to the once every 11 minutes, that is a stat by my company TomiAhonen Consulting on measurements of European and advanced Asian phone users, and is nearly 2 years old now. That number is certainly coming down is probably less than once every 10 minutes now. If you consider your own use, notice how many times you look at your phone where you won't initiate a traditional telecoms action. So you look at your phonebook to check on a person's wife's name or the address of where you are going. You check the time of the last call you received from that person (you don't call the person, you just see again when was it he called). You re-read the message you received and decide you won't respond to it yet, etc etc etc. We have an enormous amount of activity on our phones that does not result in phone calls or messages, apart from the clock and calendar and camera haha. And also with our calls, we call the same person several times if he/she does not answer; and with messages, we often have an urgent message for which we expect a reply, and then we glance at the phone several times before the reply arrives... Yes the modern usage is getting to be far more than once every 11 minutes... not to mention if you're a teenager in that 100 messages sent per day class - ie you also receive 100 messages per day - then for the 16 hours you are awake, you do literally look at the phone every 5 minutes to send or receive a message. I often wonder if they get anything else accomplished in their day haha

CEO - thanks, yeah, great piece of real-estate.

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Jasper Ettema

Hi Tommi,

I love Idle Screen Applications as well. We have developed a System using the internet to broadcast (or narrowcast) short video clips to the mobile idle screen. We can do this with nearly 80% of all wap-abled mobilephones after their users have opted in.
Using the internet to do so makes it cheap like SMS, the costs of data to be paid by the subscriber. The system offers a possibility for all content delivering companies to sell there content in another way while being able to feature Pre-Roll-Ads to specific target groups.
Maybe you would like to have a look at it.
In german:
or in English:

Replica watch

I was reading something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your position on it is diametrically contradicted to what I read earlier. I am still contemplating over the opposite points of view, but I'm tipped heavily toward yours. And no matter, that's what is so great about modernized democracy and the marketplace of thoughts on-line.


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