The thought of receiving ads on a cell phone is enough to give some people spam-induced nightmares. Indeed, two-thirds of respondents in a Telephia survey recently said they considered mobile ads to be unacceptable.

But a growing number of advertisers and content providers are undeterred: They believe they can make mobile advertising more palatable by serving it up with freebies and discounts for amenable cell phone users.

Virgin Mobile, for example, is offering free voice minutes to subscribers who interact with ads. Zagat, the restaurant survey book, is providing free ad-supported content on mobile devices. Fans of the NFL and Major League Baseball can get team and player alerts from 4INFO through free text messages accompanied by a small ad. And Hands-On Mobile will announce this week that it's releasing seven of its games on Greystripe's ad-funded mobile gaming portal, GameJump.

For consumers in this emerging environment, mobile advertising doesn't have to be an annoyance. Meanwhile, for advertisers, it's a way to actively engage customers with the potential for even higher response rates than on other platforms.

Get the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle