A new mobile phone plan launched today offers a reduced price for users willing to receive mobile advertising.
The new service from ComTel Corporation — SMSPup Mobile — provides users who sign up to receive SMS and MMS advertisements with a discount of 65 per cent off the standard $29 fee, reducing the cost of the plan to $10. To qualify for the discount subscribers must be over 18, answer some basic demographic and lifestyle questions, and opt-in to receive up to five mobile or e-mail messages a day.
One of the catches of the new service for subscribers is that if they do not view 50 per cent of the advertising messages they are sent, then SMSPup Mobile reserves the right to remove the discount.
SMSPup Mobile has grown out of ComTel's permission-based mobile advertising business that includes the SMSPup, WhatDoYouThink.com.au and BigGiveAway.com.au services. Using these permission-based mobile advertising services, mobile phone owners can provide their number and basic information about themselves in return for SMS and MMS offers and rewards from advertisers. Currently ComTel has permission to market to almost 500,000 members.
Subscribers to the SMSPup Mobile service can expect to receive targeted offers based on the profile information they submit.
However location-based promotions — a much-discussed aspect of mobile phone advertising — will not be provided by SMSPup Mobile. Currently there are no plans for SMSPup Mobile to provide its advertisers with the ability to target adverts based on a subscriber's location in the mobile phone network.
According to ComTel CEO David Sweet, "there's been lots of talk. But there's a whole load of things that need to be resolved, including privacy."
This is not the first time advertising-subsidised communications services have been offered in the Australian market. In the late 1990s free Internet Service Providers as well as free long-distance phone call providers attempted to launch advertising-funded services with little success.
Sweet claims one factor differentiating SMSPup Mobile from those fledgling attempts is the method of advertising delivery.
"This is about sending information through when the user has time to look at it. It's not about interruption", he said. "This is an adjunct to our business [SMSPup]. It's very hard to start a business [like this] from scratch and make money."
SMSPup Mobile uses the Vodafone mobile network.