Here Come the Ad-Powered Mobiles

Happy to get some free calls and texts on your mobile by clicking some ads? A new mobile network launches today offering free phone call minutes and messaging in return for sending customers advertising – except it’s in the UK. Blyk will target the mobile-obsessed 16-to 24-year-old crowd with ads, based on a profile customers will fill out on their website, writes TechCrunch UK.

MySpace owner Fox Interactive Media is also rolling out other mobile versions to start picking up ad revenues., the gaming site IGN, AskMen, Photobucket and its local TV affiliates will all have mobile versions in the coming months. Right now MySpace has subscription-based version of of the service with AT&T and Helio, but the new mobile sites will work on all US carriers for free (minus data charges) so hopefully they’ll stop the subscription charges, or CrunchGear will want to know why.

The new mobile Fox sites will allow users to send and receive messages and friend requests, comment on pictures, post bulletins, update blogs, and find and search for friends.

Until now no mobile network has based it’s whole business on this idea but we are going to see a lot more of it in the coming months. Virgin Mobile recently reported that 330,000 of its 4.8 million US subscribers have agreed to view ads in exchange for free calling minutes. And let’s not even get into the rumours about Google launching a mobile network based on it’s Adsense ads, or we’ll be here all day.

It’s all part of a wider trend. Cash from voice calls are either flat or falling as we text and surf more via our handsets, so in order to offset this, mobile networks are looking hungrily at targeting us with advertising. Although mobile advertising is estimated to only generate $1 billion to $2 billion in revenues worldwide this year, it’s expected to surge from $5 billion to $11 billion within five years, generating much needed growth, says the IHT.