Australian start-up Unlockd has struck a deal to bring its ad funding platform to US telco Boost Mobile and its 9m customers.
The deal sees the company, which launched with a deal with Lebara Mobile in Australia in October last year, provide ads to Boost’s customers every second or third time they unlock their phones, saving them up to US$5 per month on their bills.
Unlockd CEO, Matt Berriman, said of the smaller-scale Lebara launch in Australia: “It was really a strategic decision to go into market with them before the Sprint roll-out, although we had planned and signed that before, to go into the market and ensure we’re ready to go on the big stage when we’re ready for launch over here.”
The start-up is backed by media industry heavy-hitters including News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and former Seven Group CEO Peter Gammell.
The technology works via users downloading an app for their phones. Advertisers featured on the service at launch include Starbucks, Levis, Hulu, SheKnows and Lyft. It is currently available only on Android devices.
Berriman said Unlockd had found it to be “a pretty binary product”, adding: “If you’re embracing of it you get money for watching content and ads and offers, but there are many people who use ad blockers and it may not be a product for them.”
Unlockd CEO Matt Berriman
Last week US telco Verizon launched its own version of the ad-funded service as carriers begin to experiment with potential new revenue streams.
The new Boost deal also includes deals with media players Twitter and Yahoo, with the latter having its search bar carried on unlock screens and the social network offering special deals to its users.
“It’s fascinating how the US market has rolled out in terms of doing major media code deals as well as advertiser deals,” Berriman added. “We’ve got the likes of Yahoo and Twitter come out with joint statements and really come out as genuine partners of Unlockd.
“Where we see quite a fundamental shift is where we’re able to work with these major media codes and a tier-one telco to provide that benefit, and there’s a change in the telco landscape to hopefully drive a significant portion of mobile ad revenue into the telcos’ and into consumer’s pockets.”
Berriman told Mumbrella the company is still in negotiations with the big three Australian telcos, adding it had signed with a “major, globally-known telco brand in the UK as well” adding it will launch in six markets this year.
Emerging markets including India, China, Indonesia and Thailand have also been on the radar as well as European giants in Italy and Germany.
Doug Smith, director of pre-paid at Boost’s parent company, Sprint Telecom, said in a release: “Providing Boost subscribers with options to reduce their cost to communicate is in line with our goal of being the value leader in pre-paid.
“Boost Dealz, built on the Unlockd solution, is an industry-first, completely optional opportunity for our customers to earn value in exchange for learning about products and services aligned with their interests.
“In addition, it delivers a new revenue stream to our business while providing an innovative avenue for advertisers and media publishers to reach a highly targeted audience.”