Orange UK has launched a mobile advertising service called Shots, building on a partnership with ad-supported MVNO Blyk announced in July 09.
The new offering indicates the rising importance of mobile ads in carrier strategies, as a key area where an operator can add value, and generate new revenues from corporations rather than margin-squeezing end users.
Blyk was formed in 2006 by former executives at Nokia and Contra Advertising, offering users free calls in return for accepting mobile adverts.
Although it gained about 200,000 users in its launch market, the UK, its real value was seen to be in its platform for targeting and delivering ads to reflect a customer's interests and location. This diverted Blyk down the road of managed services, and then attracted Orange, looking to catch up with other cellcos that were getting active in mobile ads, such as O2.
Orange has been testing the platform with its own brands, and with some third parties such as 4Music and Snickers. It will now launch the full service on February 1, under the new name of Orange Shots.
It will initially be available to brands wanting to reach its Pay As You Go Monkey customer base, which offers free music and texts to customers when they top up, and has about 100,000 subscribers.
A Blyk spokesman told TE Daily the firm will soon announce fresh partnerships with Vodafone Netherlands, and an unnamed Asian carrier. Unlike the Orange partnership, the new deals will be branded Blyk and be more consumer facing, he said.