Blyk’s existing 200,000 subscribers will have their SIM cards deactivated at the end of August and be free to join any network they wish. The Blyk brand will no longer be used in a direct-to-consumer capacity, with the model relaunched as an Orange-branded service (nma.co.uk 23 July 2009).
Orange will start offering its own ad-funded calls and SMS service early next month but refused to reveal specifics regarding the new tariff.
An undisclosed number of Blyk employees will work alongside Orange’s ad sales division.
In time Orange plans to offer more of its 16m subscribers the chance to sign up to an ad-funded offering, beyond the 16-24-year-olds targeted by Blyk.
Marc Overton, VP of wholesale, business development and partnerships for Orange, told new media age the operator was keen to grow a more “intimate” relationship with its subscribers via the new model.
“A lot of the conversations with our customers only take place around their bills,” he said. “This is far more interactive and, from an operator’s point of view, brings us a deeper relationship with our subscribers.”
He added it was necessary to partner with Blyk in order to use its ad expertise and quickly get a product to market.
It forms part of Orange’s attempt to position itself as a media company able to offer brands a range of services.
Pekka Ala-Pietilä, Blyk’s co-founder and CEO, blamed the “heavy-lifting” MVNO model adopted by the business for crippling its ability to grow quickly. Subscriber growth was also slower than anticipated.
“If you have the opportunity to grow to a mass-media scale then that’s a very appealing business model,” he said. “MVNO as a model doesn’t give us speed to expand. Operators have multiple means to get people to opt in.”
Orange plans to launch a series of agency roadshows to introduce media buyers to the new ad opportunities available.
This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk