Free Cell Phone Service In The UK…..With A Catch

“Preference-based” mobile advertising is the way to go in the eye’s of a new mobile network operator in the UK called Blyke. They’ve developed a new advertising model that allows for the free use of their network in return for the consent to receive relevant...

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blyk_logo_2.jpg“Preference-based” mobile advertising is the way to go in the eye’s of a new mobile network operator in the UK called Blyke. They’ve developed a new advertising model that allows for the free use of their network in return for the consent to receive relevant ads on a daily basis.

We’ve seen this model before, but Blyke takes it a step further by incorporating a new method for delivering the advertisements to it’s users. User’s are encouraged to interact by answering simple questions before being sent ads via SMS to add more depth and effectiveness for it’s advertisers. The service is only available for 16-24 year olds because advertisers have identified this demographic as the hardest to market to. In addition, users in this age category are much more likely to already be involved in SMS as a means of communication making SMS advertising more effective.

For consenting to receive up to 6 SMS advertisements per day, users get access to 217 free SMS messages, and 43 free minutes per month. Upon signing up and filling out a user-preference profile, you receive a SIM card in the mail that you can stick in any existing device. If user’s want to SMS or talk beyond what’s included free of charge, you can pay a per-text, or per-minute fee, which seems inevitable given that users in the 16-24 demographic will blow through 217 texts and 43 minutes in no time. I can see a user starting the month using their free time with Blyke, and then switching to their normal carrier’s SIM card when it’s all used up. That, or parents giving their teenager access to Blyke service to both limit their usage, and save a little money.

The advertisements are full-page color ads, which like stated before, is based on answers to questions sent before the actual ad is sent. A user might get a message with photos of six celebrities and a question asking which celebrity the user is most like. Based on what the user texts back in, the appropriate ad is pulled and delivered to the user.


Blyke is currently only available in the UK by invite only. Their holding events and visiting universities across the country to invite users in, but you can also ask any Blyke subscriber for an invite, or visit their website to request one.

With the amount of free time they offer being so slim, I think it’s doubtful this will turn out to be successful. Also, while being highly relevant, I don’t think asking users questions to receive ads is the way to go. User’s will just blow through the ads with no thought or intention of acting, just to get to their free minutes and text messages until it’s all used up. Offer a decent amount of free usage, and a unique way to serve the advertisements, and I might think about it. Any thoughts?

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  1. Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS


    A few thoughts here. I, too, was very skeptical when I first read about Blyk months ago. However, they are posting incredible figures…up to 20% click through rates once the first message has been received. The first message is all they have to open to continue to receive their free plan – yet users are clicking through past this at great rates.

    I have also been following a blog where they have an insider reporting on what he likes and doesn’t like about Blyk. Believe it or not, he likes getting the messages. They are all targeted exactly to what he likes, so when he is bored on the bus or train, he opens these up and reads and clicks through as they are on his specific topic. Blyk has had some technical trouble, but all in all, this guy likes the service…

    Advertisers are falling all over themselves to reach the 16-24 age group as this is when people form lifelong opinions. Blyk actually seems to be working at getting these kids to open the messages.

    Long term? I don’t know. But as targeted marketing goes, this seems to be doing very well.

  2. Vince

    I think this model might actually work– irregardless if the users will just blow through the ads.

    TV the most popular media as we speak is the most passive one as well. But advertisers are still betting money into it.

    The CPM model of the internet is still there even though we dont click on the ads. Again, advertisers are putting money into it.

    In my opinion, i think its still all about impressions.. advertisers will put money who ever can give them the right number of impressions, TARPS etc..

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