Startup Unlockd rolls out new service offering free data to people viewing ads on their phones

Lebara Mobile is rolling out a new service which allows customers to top up their credit by watching ads when they unlock the homescreen on their phones.

unlockd product

The technology has been licensed from Australian-founded startup Unlockd, which hopes to attract around 100,000 local user by the end of the year and already has Network Ten, Vice, Southern Cross Austereo and the Weekly Review signed on as launch partners.

It works by serving either an interstitial ad or relevant piece of content to the customer every third time they unlock their device, with CEO Matt Berriman telling Mumbrella testing had shown they had click throughs around two to three times greater than average with the ad units.

“It’s at a different point in time the content is served compared to what people are used to,” he said. “We did quite a bit of research with Nielsen and 40 per cent of people said every time they unlocked their phone they’d like to see relevant content and there was another 30 per cent of people who said they’d like to see content at various times. It’s a different model.”

Research shows people check their phones up to 200 times per day.



The startup has raised “double digit millions” in capital from the likes of Lachlan Murdoch and former Seven Group CEO Peter Gammell to get the service off the ground and the company is in talks with companies in ten different markets including the US, hoping to scale up quickly to millions of users globally by the end of next year.

Berriman said the opportunities for marketers included targeting people in a different, more passive, environment with offers and content, while the company is working with telcos and media companies to promote live streams of TV shows such as Ten Eyewitness News between 5pm and 6pm, with Berriman hopeful they can create an unmetered viewing model soon.

“You can see that the ability for us to be able to work closely with content providers to ensure the mobile screen is in line with what’s happening on a TV will be vital,” he said.

The company has created a proprietary ad serving platform, and uses first party data from the telcos after sign up, as well as second party data around things like geo-location to target people in relevant places.

Berriman said they hope for 3-400,000 users in Australia by the second quarter of next year to provide scale to marketers.

However the product is only available to consumers using an Android device currently, with Berriman saying “Apple are pretty tight on their operating system integration ability so it’s Android only at the moment,” but addding they are hopeful of striking a deal with Apple in the future.

He also admitted while the product would probably be used by people with less disposable income those users were attractive to marketers in some high spending sectors.

“I definitely think Louis Vuitton is not going to be using it,” he quipped. “But what we’re seeing from the consumer set and research we’re doing is there’s a big middle band of consumers out there your FMCGs retail, fast food, are all trying to target and that’s some of the biggest advertising spend out there, and our aim is to make a significant proportion of the inventory content so being able to get consumers on the content aspect rather than just pushing out ads for Huggies nappies.”

The company is looking at international expansion and is set to be up to 40 staff by end of February next year.

There will also be a marketing push to come in the next two weeks from Lebara themselves targeting existing and potential new customers with the free data deal. That is set to comprise of mostly out of home ads.

Alex Hayes


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