The Ovivo mobile network that gives users free airtime in exchange for watching an ad every 10 minutes has unexpectedly closed its doors.
The company said it was hoping to raise £3m by Easter, according to an interview with Mobile News, but the firm has now posted a message on its website saying it has closed down ‘for reasons beyond its control’. Mobile Marketing was due to speak to the company's CEO Dariush Zand on Monday but the call was cancelled. Ovivo's PR team were unable to shed any more light on the situation.
Ovivo was founded in 2010 to offer calling, text and data bundles and raised £1m early last year. The UK-based MVNO firm ran on Vodafone’s network and clearly had some success, with users expressing shock at the news. One said: "Ovivo was getting really good. The advertising was getting cool as well."
Zand said it had 50,000 active SIMs in March 2014. “Our customers are very engaged with mobile browsing, 68 per cent browse on a daily basis and 38 per cent buy things from their mobile devices every single week,” he told Mobile News. Users have been offered the opportunity to get their PAC code and switch to another network but are unable to access their account.
Does value-exchange work?
The value-exchange model has had mixed success in Europe. Blyk closed its UK operations in 2009 and partenered with Vodafone to relaunch its service targeted at young people in the Netherlands in 2010.
Similarly, Samba Mobile gives users free 3G on tablets and dongles in exchange for watching ads and says it has delivered 12m ad views since in launched in 2012. Speaking to Mobile Marketing, Samba founder Ben Atherton said its service, which enables people to select ads and watch them at their leisure, is what is driving its success. “We have a core base of loyal users and come highly recommended on independent sites like Money Saving Expert.”
This 'selector model', as opposed to that used by Ovivo, has proven highly effective in clickthrough rates and other studies of ad effectiveness, Atherton explained. Not to rest on its laurels, Samba Mobile has forged its way into the social messaging space, working to deliver free calling to anyone in the world on GSM mobile or landline, as well as free texts, via the TextMe and UppTalk apps.