ad funded mobile offering SMSPup launches in Australia with Blyk type model

 In advertising

ComTel Corporation Limited has launched what they claim is Australia’s first advertising subsidised mobile phone service ahead of the anticipated surge in mobile advertising growth down under.  The model looks similar to that of Blyk, currently operating in the UK.

Update: Jonathan Macdonald (who was instrumental in setting up Blyk in the UK) points out in a comment below that the model seems more similar to subsidised models rather than Blyk that is zero top-up upfront.

The SMSPup model outlined below requires the subscriber to pay a minimum of $10 per month to use the service ($29 if they don’t want the ads). Currently Blyk is the only totally ad-funded model ($0 up front) in this field.

The following is from the press release supplied by ComTel’s PR.

The innovative concept, which has been embraced by users and advertisers in the UK, marks a major breakthrough for Australia’s embryonic mobile advertising sector.

The SMSPup Mobile monthly $10 Get $130 Cap Plan offers budget-savvy consumers who are happy to receive mobile ads a highly competitive and value-packed post-paid plan.

Core to the plan’s offering is the extra value generated through special advertising offers and participation rewards. Customers who ‘opt-in’ to the advertising component will receive reward points that can be redeemed for a range of benefits including movie passes, travel discounts and used in auctions for devices such as handsets.

These customers effectively receive a 65 per cent discount off the service’s $29 a month base fee structure.
SMSPup Mobile’s development marks the culmination of ComTel’s successful integration of its pre and post-paid MVNO businesses with Empowered Communications, Australia’s largest permission-based e-marketing group that was acquired in October 2007 for $23.7 million.

The launch reinforces ComTel Managing Director David Sweet’s long held view that future profitability for the telecommunications and advertising sectors lies in the convergence of mobile phone, internet and media technologies.

“While convergence presents the right concept for mobile advertising, reach and relevance are key to its success,” Sweet said, reinforcing that consumers have to want to receive advertising messages for the new medium to work.

“ComTel brings telecommunications technology and expertise to a proven permission-based marketing model to deliver effective and cost efficient mobile campaigns to a ready base of advertisers and consumers,” he said.

“We have a collective database of 500,000 Australians who have subscribed to one of Empowered’s five value generating online portals, and an advertising base of over 360 brands and agencies that have been targeting these subscribers since 2004.

“From all backgrounds and aged mainly between 18 and 40, subscribers are rewarded for receiving mobile and online advertisements that match their registered demographic profile and lifestyle preferences.”

One of Empowered’s most successful opt-in online databases, SMSPup is already 140,000 strong, offering free web to mobile SMS capability in return for receiving advertisements and participating in occasional surveys. Last year, word-of-mouth referrals accounted for 66 per cent of the portal’s growth.
“We are now growing the SMSPup database by expanding the value offering with a terrific new mobile solution,” Sweet said.

The ads SMSPup Mobile users receive will reflect their demographic and lifestyle preferences, providing advertisers a direct, measurable and highly responsive marketing medium.

Sweet said SMSPup Mobile’s permission-based model ensures the consumer is in control of the advertising process as they can opt-in and out anytime they choose.

Advertising funded mobile plans have taken off in the UK following the successful launch of Blyk in late 2007. Targeting 16-24 year olds, Blyk outstripped growth expectations, attracting its annual member target of 100,000 six months ahead of schedule.

The European market, often considered to be at the forefront of mobile manufacturing and marketing developments, is expected to see mobile advertising grow from $US231 million in 2008 to $US1.5 billion by 20112.

In Australia, a recent survey of 6,500 people conducted by ComTel, found that over half would consider receiving ads on their mobiles if the messages were relevant to their interests and reduced their call and text charges. The survey also found that the mobile ranked the highest on a list of devices people ‘could not live without’ ahead of the laptop/PC and television.

“Advertisers have been waiting for a breakthrough in mobile advertising, and ComTel is delivering a proven and highly cost effective solution,” Sweet said.

SMSPup Mobile joins ComTel’s stable of segment focused mobile offerings including pre-paid Just Mobile, Amichi Mobile and Reward Mobile. All run on the Vodafone network.

Sweet said ComTel was also ready to offer white labeling capabilities for organisations and businesses wanting to brand their own mobile offering.

Visit and refer to the background paper and FAQ for further information.

London Calling Comment: Looks a lot like the Blyk model, pioneered here in the UK.  It will be interesting to see how the Australian market responds to this type of ad-funded offer.

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