Freebie: Thailand’s first ad-funded MVNO launched

Freebie provides users with free calls, in return for listening to advertising | Photo: Echo 360. 

Echo 360 Co., Ltd., a Thai marketing and communication company has launched Thailand’s first ad-funded MVNO, “Freebie” a mobile voice service that offers free voice calls in return for advertising.

The service provides users with free calls for 180 minutes a month, in return for listening to advertising for 15 seconds per call. The company has partnered with Thailand largest mobile operator Advance Info Service PLC (AIS) to launch the service, available for all AIS customer from September 2013.

According to Pratthana Leelapanang, SVP, Digital Products & Services, Advanced Info Service PLC., “AIS is always looking for ways to create a new experience for its subscribers. We are honored that Echo 360 chose AIS to be its business partner in launching this exciting new service that offers many benefits for its subscribers.”

Customers must provide personal information when signing up for the Freebie service in order target the voice ads to be suited to their profile. The free calls can be made to any mobile or fixed-line number.

The main end-user targets are those aged 15-35 while the industry target for the advertising includes finance service, FMCG, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and airlines.

Echo 360 plans to attract 500,000 active Freebie users by end of the year and 1.5 million by 2014.

Ad funded MVNO

The ad-funded concept is not new; it was first launched in Finland by Blyke in October 2007 by Pekka Ala-Pietilä (former president of Nokia) and Antti Öhrling (ex-chairman and founder of the Contra advertising group). Users received advertising messages on their mobiles, and in return were given a monthly allowance of free top-up.

In July 2009, Blyk announced that they were ending their service in the UK at the end of August, to become a partner for Orange in the UK and in May 2010, Blyk re-launched its service in the Netherlands in partnership with Vodafone, it provides targeted ads and content to the 16 to 29-year olds segment with monthly 1000 free Blyk-to-Blyk calls and 1000 free SMS to any networks.

Author: Allan Rasmussen
Managing director at Yozzo. Allan is a MVNA/MVNE/MVNO specialist with hands-on experience from more than 60 projects in both competitive and greenfield markets. His expertise includes business case development, execution, launch and growth strategies. Advisor and consultant to mobile network operators, MVNA, MVNE, MVNO, National Regulatory Authorities, Government Agencies, Broadcast Companies, TMT Industry Associations, Innovation and Investment Banks.

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