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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Virgin Mobile to Offer Free Minutes for Watching Ads

Starting today, Virgin Mobile USA will be offering a new service, called "SugarMama" which allows users to view commercials on Virgin's website or read text messages on their phone. In return, they can earn up to 75 minutes per month of free airtime. So far, Xbox, Pepsi and Truth (anti-smoking) have signed up for the launch.

Interesting way to hit their target audience, but will it also invite consumer advocates to criticize what can and cannot be promoted via this channel based on content (for example, liquor ads could be effective with the upper range of the demographic but are a definite no-no for the 14-20 set). Is there a way to customize content based on the age of the phone owner?

Also, will teenagers, with their short attention spans, stick with the entire ad and answer the questions at the end, regardless of the pay-off?

This could be an opportunity to get good tracking data if there are special offers tied to the advertising that phone owners could take advantage of (ex. show this text message coupon code at your local Pizza Hut to receive $1 off the lunch buffet, etc.)

It will be interesting if this new channel works.

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