Blyk, the new mobile network for 16-24 year-olds funded by advertising, has signed up more than 100,000 members since its launch in the United Kingdom at the end of September 2007.
Members have embraced the Blyk concept so rapidly that annual member targets have been reached six months ahead of schedule, establishing it as a powerful new media for connecting advertisers with young people.
Blyk gives members free texts and minutes every month, which equates to an individual saving of more than £280 (Dh2,000) each year – with no contract, no hidden costs or fees – in return for receiving up to six highly targeted advertising messages per day from brands, including Xbox, Adidas, STA Travel, Penguin, Brylcreem, Boots, COI and RSPCA.
The ad campaigns that fund the service have generated industry-leading average response rates of 29 per cent, at a time when trust in other forms of mass advertising is falling and brands are finding it difficult to engage with young people.
Shaun Gregory, UK CEO, said: "Young people have embraced Blyk because it makes phone bills and contracts a thing of the past. We believe communication should be free, like most other forms of media in the UK. Blyk provides brands and advertisers with an exciting way of reaching the youth market in a very personalised way that works. Reaching 100,000 members is significant for advertisers because it gives them the opportunity to engage with a mass youth audience in a highly efficient and cost-effective way. In six months we have built up a deep knowledge of our member base, which now exceeds many established youth media players and with more than seven million 16-24 year-old phone owners in the UK there is huge potential for growth."
Blyk's proposition is based on the insight that messaging is the simple dominant mobile behaviour for 16-24 year-olds. When new members join Blyk they are profiled based on their lifestyle and personal interests. This profiling is 100 per cent opt-in and it helps Blyk to build up a deep knowledge of its customer base and deliver relevant communication to them. The profile enriches over time, which means the consumer experience just gets better and better.
Brands use Blyk to create awareness, build relationships and drive sales through one-to-one interactions. Although the average response rate to advertising campaigns is 29 per cent, many are significantly higher.
Penguin Books ran a campaign on Blyk to promote the launch of Nick Hornby's latest novel Slam and achieved an unprecedented 67 per cent response rate. Blyk created a two-part messaging dialogue whereby positive respondents received a 90-second audio preview of the opening chapter read by Nicholas Hoult, star of Channel 4's Skins – a media first for using audio clips sent via mobile to promote a book. Blyk will launch in the Netherlands in the second half of 2008 followed by other European markets and has attracted new investors Goldman Sachs and Industrial and Financial Investments Company, who join a roster that includes Sofinnova Partners and a number of private investors.