SingTel on Wednesday said the marketing industry needs to consider mobile advertising as a service, not just a means of putting brands in front of eyeballs.

"Consumers should be surprised and delighted to receive an ad," said Craig Law-Smith, director of business development and strategy at SingTel's global advertising division.

In other words, they need to be timely, relevant, and add value. This has been the case for years, but Law-Smith warned that advertisers today are playing for higher stakes.

With privacy legislation on the agenda in Europe and elsewhere, it is set to become easier for consumers to avoid having their personal information collected by advertisers, he said.

"People will just opt out if they're served irrelevant ads," he said, adding that serving irrelevant ads is the equivalent of pouring money down the drain.

On the upside though, with the amount of technology included on smartphones, they incorporate more or less every marketing channel – radio, TV, online, and direct marketing – and they also have the capability to meet every marketing objective, from making a consumer aware of a product, all the way to completing a transaction.

In addition, individuals are producing ever more data that will help brands to deliver on the potential of advertising as a service, such as location, shopping habits, and social media activity.

"We as an industry used to conduct surveys, so I knew what consumers had done and why," Law-Smith said. Now though, in the era of big data analytics, "I have no idea why they did something, but I can predict what they're going to do next with a high degree of probability."

Individuals who willingly become a rich source of data for advertisers should therefore expect to receive high-calibre marketing messages.

"They are more likely to be surprised and delighted when they receive an ad," said Law-Smith.