Unlockd, the Australian start-up that offers mobile phone users a discount in exchange for watching ads is launching today in the US with the Sprint-owned Boost Mobile.
Not to be confused with Telstra’s Boost Mobile, the US business has almost 9 million customers Unlockd will tap into.
On the surface, Unlockd’s appeal is a discount of $5 per month in exchange for displaying “smart ads, offers and other relevant content from major brands and media”.
However, the big opportunity for Unlockd lies in the the current ad blocking war waged behind the scenes with telcos and content makers.
Big telcos across the world are threatening to encourage ad blocking software on mobile devices and implement ad blocking software at a network level. Their reasoning is that despite page sizes going up 70% year-on-year, mostly due to richer ads, the telcos aren’t receiving any revenue from the ads, which take up network bandwidth.
Digicel, a Jamaican telco is already working with an Israeli based ad blocker Shine who have deployed technology to block ads in both display and video. They say that over a 5 minute browsing session, data usage goes down from 5MB with ads to just 50KBs without ads.
The only sites that don’t have ads blocked are certain local news sites, but Google, Yahoo and Facebook all have to enter a revenue sharing deal to have ads displayed.
In this context, Unlockd will be able to give telcos a direct share of revenue from ad content displayed on handsets, with customers also able to get rewards.
“Ad blocking has become a topical conversation as the disjoint between the revenue collection between major digital media companies and publishers is disproportionate to telco’s who provide the infrastructure, handsets and customers to consume that media,” Unlockd CEO Matt Berriman told Business Insider.
“In our view, telcos are using ad blocking as a lever to get a seat at the table to prove their relevance.”
“Unlockd provides a win-win-win for all. Consumers finally derive a value exchange for seeing ads (other than just free content), advertisers and publishers continue to reach their consumers but with greater targeting capability, and before they reach Facebook or Google, and the telcos finally get a slice of the near $100 billion mobile advertising revenue that they’ve helped create over the last decade.”