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Ad-funded MVNO Blyk plans to axe its consumer offering, which launched amid a flurry of publicity in September 2007.

Blyk, which currently rents network capacity from Orange in the UK, is preparing to close down its direct-to-consumer business to focus on operator partnerships.

The mobile virtual network operator, which offers subscribers aged 16-24 free calls and texts in return for receiving ad messages, was touted as an innovative way to target hard-to-reach consumers.

But Blyk has struggled to gain a critical mass of users and has also been hobbled by a downturn in ad spend. In January it cut its tariff structure from 217 free texts and 43 minutes of free calls each month to a £15 credit structure.

The company now hopes to sell its technology, which allows targeted marketing messages to be sent based on user responses, to operators. It’s understood to be in talks with O2, Orange and Vodafone.

Blyk first announced plans for a partnership strategy with operators and ad agencies after it secured a €40m (£33.7m) investment in November last year.

Antti Öhrling, UK CEO of Blyk, said, “There won’t be an MVNO when we launch the partnership model. The whole model of engaging is appealing to other operators.”
Blyk has signed up 200,000 subscribers who average a 25% response rate to ads from brands including Sony Music, Pathé Films and STA Travel.

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Published 13 May, 2009 by NMA Staff

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