Verizon: Mobile Ads, Pay Twice?

Verizon Wireless plans to cash in on the current craze over ads on mobile web sites, reports the New York Times, which says Verizon will allow on-deck mobile web ads early next year. After Sprint started a similar campaign a couple months ago, there have been constant rumors that Verizon would start slowly doing the same. At CTIA last September Verizon Wireless COO Lowell McAdam commented, “More than the PC the cell phone is a personal space. If customers get an ad they don’t like, we are going to hear about it. We are moving slowly on this.”

We all know mobile ads will be a big business some day, though we can debate how fast the market will grow. An interesting question that the report doesn’t address is: will mobile ads lead to any kind of discounted service or lowered costs for the customer? If the company is helping monetize its services with mobile ads, shouldn’t the customer see some savings — or do we have to pay Verizon twice, once on our hefty bills, and a second time for our eyeballs on the mobile web?

We asked Verizon about this issue and they didn’t get back to us on that. Google certainly seems to think that mobile ads can offer free or discounted phones. But that’s Google. Not a carrier that is desperately looking to add new revenue streams.