Samba Closes, After Two Years of Rewarding Ad Views with Mobile Data

SambaSamba Mobile, which provided users with 3G data in exchange for watching ads, has closed its doors after two years of business.

Customers were rewarded for between 3.5–7 MB of data for each ad they viewed, limited only by the amount of available ads on the network. According to its statement, Samba had run over 1,000 campaigns with its advertising partners.

Samba will refund any customers who bought a SIM or dongle from Samba in April 2014 and any unused credit that was bought as a cash top-up, but “no money will be paid for Samba credit that was earned from watching ads”.

The closure is principally due to the rising cost charged by its wholesale data partners, which “makes the current model of offering a meaningful value exchange of mobile broadband unsustainable”.

Samba is just the latest value exchange network to meet an untimely end, joining Ovivo, which closed last month; Blyk, which shuttered UK operations in 2009; and back in 2007, When Ovivo closed, we spoke to founder Ben Atherton, who explained why the service had survived where others had failed – “a core base of loyal users” and a more effective ad model.

The statement put out by Samba suggests the company will continue to operate, however. The statement claims that it has “to a large extent, proven that people are happy to consume advertising if they are in control of the experience and if they get something meaningful in return”, and repeatedly mentions that it is hoping to leverage its learning in “subsequent ventures”.