An ad-funded mobile network that offers free calls and texts to 16- to 24-year-olds has signed 100,000 UK users in the first six months of operation.
Blyk—a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which piggybacks on the Orange network and gives users 217 free texts and 43 free voice minutes per month in exchange for receiving no more than six targeted ad texts/picture messages per day—has reached its annual member target half a year ahead of schedule.
Blyk said the ad campaigns that fund the service have had an average response rate of 29 per cent—which it described as "industry leading". But many individual campaigns have had significantly higher response rates than that, according to Blyk, which cites a Penguin Books promotion for Nick Hornby's novel Slam which it said gained "an unprecedented 67 per cent response rate".
Blyk users are asked to volunteer information about themselves and their interests, enabling the company to build up detailed profiles for targeting ads. It said the average cost to advertisers per response rate is 53p—which makes Blyk a more efficient form of advertising than online (£1.50), email (£2.00), direct mail (£12.50) and unprofiled mobile SMS (£2.22).
Shaun Gregory, UK CEO of Blyk, said in a statement: "Reaching 100,000 members is significant for advertisers because it gives them the opportunity to engage with a mass youth audience in a highly efficient and cost-effective way. In six months we have built up a deep knowledge of our member base which now exceeds many established youth media players and with over seven million 16- to 24-year-old phone owners in the UK there is huge potential for growth."
Blyk launched in the UK at the end of September 2007.
Rival MVNO Tesco Mobile recently announced it is forging ahead with mobile advertising after attracting hundreds of thousands of unique visitors to a WAP advertising portal it was trialling.