Blyk launches in UK

James Middleton

September 24, 2007

3 Min Read
Blyk launches in UK

Ad funded MVNO, Blyk, launched services in the UK Monday morning, targeting an audience of 4.5 million young consumers.

Many industry watchers were wondering what was taking so long, Blyk was expected to debut earlier in the summer, but it turns out the company has spent the last 18 months researching the mobile advertising market.

At the launch event in London, Blyk’s CEO and co-founder [and ex-president of Nokia mobile phones], Pekka Ala-Pietila, spilled the beans on the offering.

Blyk will be available by invitation only to a strict target audience of 16 – 24 year olds. Subscribers can receive their invitation either from friends or carefully targeted advertising efforts – such as university fresher packs.

Subscription is free and the user must only go through a web-based profiling process in order to receive their Blyk SIM the next day. Background checks similar to those used by financial services are carried out to confirm the identity of a subscriber, Ala-Pietila said.

Subscribers can provider their own handset, as long as it’s MMS-capable, but a range of devices are available to buy on the Blyk website.

Blyk piggybacks on the Orange UK network but Ala-Pietila went to great pains to stress that Blyk owns a good portion of its own infrastructure – essentially all the bits that deal with customer interaction. “It required some pretty heavy lifting but it allows us to have complete control of our network,” Ala-Pietila said. Although based in Finland, “The UK is the largest advertising market in Europe and it is also the most demanding,” he added. Blyk will add more European countries to its offering along the way.

The MVNO is concentrating on a strategy that it “90 per cent familiar and 10 per cent different”. Subscribers receive 43 minutes and 217 SMS message free of charge per month – no contract, no bill. The odd numbers are apparently something to do with the amount of ads people will tolerate versus the amount of airtime Blyk can give away.

If users exceed their allowance they can top up using traditional methods with extra airtime costing 15p per minute, 10p per SMS and 99p per MB of data. Data traffic is allowed but will not become part of Blyk’s ad driven initiative until some point in the future. Blyks said that browsing the Blyk portal is always free and the company, “hope’s advertisers will sponsor the usage of their wap and mobile internet to services to enhance the member experience.”

Users will receive up to six adverts a day, typically in the form of an MMS. These MMSes are crafted so as to be interactive, thereby allowing the advertiser to add further granularity to its user profile by asking about preferences. Blyk expects the interactive element to be a success because it costs the user nothing to respond.

The company will also tag ads onto the bottom of text messages coming in to users but said subscribers will not face repercussions if they do not interact or respond.

At launch, the MVNO had 45 brands on board, many of them instantly recognisable names within the target audience – such as Coke, L’Oreal and Microsoft Xbox.

About the Author(s)

James Middleton

James Middleton is managing editor of | Follow him @telecomsjames

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the newsletter here.

You May Also Like