Young people are flocking to mobile social networking by the millions, creating a potential gold mine for marketers, according to a new In-Stat study.
The survey concluded 27% of young people between 18-24, or around 14.7 million people, are actively using mobile versions of sites like MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. These so-called Millennials are by far the biggest users of mobile social networks: a total of 18.9 million people, or around 7.3% of total mobile subscribers in North America access social networks on their cell phones.
Wireless analyst Jill Meyers expects the number of subscribers accessing social networks to more than double to about 47 million people by 2012.
"That’s an enormous marketing opportunity," she said. "Imagine being able to target kids with advertising about the Hulk when they blog after seeing Iron Man."
First, though, carriers and site operators will have to solve thorny questions about privacy. Will kids feel comfortable with contextual ads on their cell phones, just as they have with their Gmail accounts?