Now Virgin Tries Ad-Supported Cell Service

from the there's-always-a-catch dept

We've noted in the past the resurgence of the "free stuff (with ads!)" business model, where users are offered free services like ISP access or long-distance calls in exchange for viewing or listening to some ads. Few of these ventures have worked, but that hasn't stopped interest in the plan from spreading. Now, Virgin Mobile is offering its users a chance to earn up to 75 minutes of free airtime per month if they watch commercials on a computer, or respond to text-message ads. The ads require the user to actually pay attention, trying to solve one shortcoming of previous efforts by forcing them to answer questions about the 30-second ads they watched, or respond to a text message, or answer a questionnaire before they get their free airtime. The thinking is obviously that Virgin's teen-heavy customer base will interested in the opportunity for free talk time, but though they're young, they're not stupid, and will quickly realize that a free minute of talktime, worth 10 cents, isn't worth the time or effort of playing along with the plan. At least Virgin isn't staking its whole business on people accepting the idea, like so many companies that have tried it before -- or Xero Mobile, the MVNO that's risen from the ashes of the spectacularly failed Gizmondo, and says it will give college students free phones and service if they'll watch video ads.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Tony, May 30th, 2006 @ 11:18am

    Only way this business model will ever work

    I'd take free prOn for watching ads

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Bum, May 30th, 2006 @ 11:26am

    It'll be just like WoW

    Soon someone will write a bot to watch said videos and rack up free minutes and then sell them in the gray market at a price point below legitimate carriers. Discuss.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Italktoomuch, May 30th, 2006 @ 11:47am

    Parents

    This is a good idea because when it comes time for the parents to kill their kids for going over their minutes, they can just tell them to watch more ads as their punishment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Professor HighBrow, May 30th, 2006 @ 11:50am

    Only way this business model will ever work...

    We can only hope that someone figures out a way to "auto answer" the Ads, just like the Autosurfing of the late 90's got smashed. I guess these guys didn't remember that one, when you could autoclick your .0015 cents per page, earning "fake currency" (Here it's just minutes of talk time) to some other fake currency to something else and just plain go bankrupt.

    Great Idea, Businessmen. I hope the more savvy "Teens" or really, whomever, take full advantage of such a ridiculous scheme and figure out a way to auto-answer the dumb questions... Inevitable, eh?

    I'd take free pr0n for watching ads

    I 2nd that e-Motion, Sir.

    --Prof Hib

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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