Blyk is a new MVNO in UK which is trying out a unique MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator ... in case you didnt know) model.
Launched last September, Blyk only allows youngsters aged 16 to 24 years old to subscribe (which gives a clear demographic signal to advertisers). And in exchange for receiving a maximum of six advertising messages per day, users get 217 free texts and 43 voice minutes a month to use. After that, Blyk subscribers, all of whom are pre-paid users, pay 10p (US$0.20) per text and voice calls are charged at 15p (US$0.30) per minute.
Blyk launch is timed for the start of the new school term in the UK. It’s a smart move but it’s not surprising. Blyk has a very experienced team, headed by backer former Nokia president Pekka Ala-Pietila and Antti Öhrling, a branding veteran.
Blyk already has an impressive advertising line-up, including Coca-Cola, Xbox, Adidas and McDonald’s. The MVNO had managed to attract a total of 40 advertisers at launch.
“If Blyk understands its consumers, and if they can provide a relevant and contextual value-added platform which allows advertisers to be more timely and engaging with them, then it has a winning solution,” says Mark Renshaw, global digital strategist at Leo Burnett, an advertising agency. “Taking traditional display mass advertising into the mobile channel replicates an old model and does not take advantage or acknowledge the truly personal engaging experience that mobile can provide.”
Renshaw envisages that advertisers will also be able to encourage Blyk subscribers to text and talk more. “The model may rely on users getting connected to interesting brand events,” he says, “and for this [mobile] contact method to become more and more key in users’ life. The ad-funded model may in fact be a recruitment tactic knowing that users will go over the free usage minutes and texts provided.”
Blyk has good management pedigree. Pekka Ala-Pietilä, co-founder and CEO of Blyk, is the former president of Nokia Corp. The MVNO says it will go pan-European next year.