Blyk Pairs With Aircel For Ads In India, Returns To Free Rewards

Blyk, the mobile ad company that started as a “free” MVNO for 16-24 year-olds, may have found its original business model hard to execute in Europe, but it didn’t give up on it altogether: it has now launched services in India, partnering with local operator Aircel. And once again, it is targeting the youth market, offering them free airtime and texts in exchange for signing up to their advertising service.

The new service, Blyk on Aircel, is a variation on the original model: the target age group is now 16-29, and users must already be paying customers in order to pick up the free minutes and texts.

Users who opt in to the service will receive SMS and MMS messages covering different categories such as sports, travel, fashion and gadgets. As users respond to these messages, the service tweaks the content relevant to those responses. After six to eight weeks, users are then sent content “that is tailored to their individual preferences”, and they can also then redeem different rewards such as free airtime.

This model could potentially find more traction in India than the original one did in the UK: Aircel, which is one of the country’s smaller mobile operators (but still has 48 million users) says that 16-29 year-olds, incredibly, make up 51 percent of the Indian market.

Blyk claims that there are already 20 brands signed on for its Aircel deal.

This is the first service to be launched by Blyk outside of Europe, and comes on the back of the company opening an Asia-Pac office in Singapore in October. In May, the company launched a service similar with Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) in the Netherlands, which works along the same principles as the Aircel deal, providing free phone minutes (to other Blyk users) and texts in exchange for accepting mobile marketing from Blyk’s partners.

The company in September announced a fourth round of financing, amounting to €17 million ($xX), bringing the company’s total funding to at least €87 million.