I am the Nigel Farage of Mobile Marketing



Let’s just get one thing straight before I continue… I am no Nigel Farage fan. As an internationalist, a European technical entrepreneur and a lover of English beer, I guarantee that I will not be sharing a pint with Nige at any point. Ever.

However, when listening to him in his speech at the EU Commission the other day, it dawned on me that I am the Nigel-soddin-Farage of Mobile Marketing.

I know you want to know why and close down this page (“Pexit”) as soon as possible, and whilst I could try to squeeze an interruptive ‘native’ ad in here before doing that to make a few quid, I’ll resist the temptation to get to the point.

In fact, two points:

  1. Our Nige spent 17 years campaigning on a single issue to reach his objective, with single bloody-mindedness.
    I have spent the last 8 years trying to change the world of mobile marketing and advertising, with single bloody-mindedness.

  3. Our Nige encouraged us to “Take Back Control”
    I have been encouraging the mobile marketing and advertising industry to put the end user in front of the advertiser for mutual benefit. In others words, letting users “Take Back Control” (without resorting to just blocking).

There, I’ve come “out” with it, although Mr. Farage might call me a lightweight for only spending 8 years on my quest, so not even half way there.

And here the comparisons between me and him end.

However, there are a few more points about the second half of my campaign that are worth mentioning.

When we set out with an idea to put users in control of the commercial content they received on their phone for their benefit and, as a consequence, the mutual benefit of advertisers, we thought that it was so obvious that everyone would follow. They didn’t, despite the successes of our B2C service (Qustodian) in the UK and Spain.

When we decided to open our platform up so that other app and web publishers could benefit from 6 years’ worth of features that entice users to want to read commercial content, so that those publishers could make ad money without annoying their users, we thought that people would follow. Whilst they have, it’s been slow so far.

The reality is, the idea of providing a space on a website or in an app where commercial content is shown that does not force the user to see it, but rather provides a toolkit for enticing them in, does not currently fit into the way the media world wants to buy advertising space. What they want is to feed the programmatic machine, so that ads can be ingested and spat out to “targeted” users at the “right time” and in the “right place”, without the need of costly human intervention. It is the way the industry works. It has to work.

The problem is, users don’t want it. The machine is raging against the little people (sound familiar?) and they hate it. Many are voting with their blockers. Others just tolerate and #waitforthecross.

But surely the machine will work, right? It is just a matter of time before we work it out with “better ads”, “better data” and “better formats” to interrupt us on our most precious of small screens.

Well maybe that’s true and maybe that will happen, but at this point I normally refer to Alan Moore’s comment that technology succeeds when it meets a human need that is life simplifying, life enabling or navigational. I just don’t see how interrupting someone on a mobile phone will ever fulfil those human needs.

So, I will continue my quest with only 9 years to go…

And for the record, if we do make our small contribution to changing the world, I will not be gloating about “you not laughing now”.

Because everyone will have won.


Note that any political views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of the company or any other associated parties.

John Roberts
Managing Director at iadbox, expert in mobile telecoms and marketing/advertising. @johnmroberts

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