Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Earn Cellphone Minutes by Watching Ads

The New York Times reports that Virgin Mobile USA will announce a program, called SugarMama that "lets people earn one minute of talking time by watching 30-second commercials on a computer or receiving text messages on their phones, then answering questions to prove they were, in fact, paying attention."

According to the article, "Virgin Mobile, a relatively small cellphone carrier with four million mostly young customers, is aiming the program at teenagers, who can earn up to 75 minutes of free talk time a month. The company says that the program, scheduled to be available on June 14, is the first ad-supported cellphone service in the United States."

So far "Virgin has signed up three advertisers: Pepsi, Microsoft's Xbox game console and a youth antismoking campaign called Truth." Customers can sign up via the Virgin Mobile website.

Roger Entner at Ovum thought "the kinds of consumers willing to swap their time for airtime were not likely to be big spenders." He said, "If you're too cheap to buy a minute of air time, how are you going to afford an Xbox?"

Ed Snyder at Charter Equity Research noted that "adding to Virgin Mobile's challenge is the fact that airtime is cheap and getting cheaper." He said "a minute of airtime typically cost from 3.5 cents to 10 cents, down from more than 25 cents a decade ago."