Here’s an interesting development in Poland that we may see expanded to other countries - Effortel has launched a free mobile internet service via Polish mobile operator, InMobile.
Effortel’s service, called FreeM, it allows users to access the internet - specifically social media websites such as Facebook - for free on their mobiles via an advertising funded service.
FreeM displays users with short, full screen advertisements. In return, their accounts are credited with a half-megabyte data traffic allowance, equivalent to approximately 30 reloads of the mobile version of Facebook.
Access is available even when the user’s account balance is zero and no compulsory top-ups are required.
At launch the free access applies to a range of social networking, web and messaging platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk.
However, when users surf websites other than designated social media websites, they are charged normal mobile rates.
It’s certainly an interesting experiment and one that could be especially successful in developing markets.
It remains to be seen how success the advertising funding really is, though. If there’s one thing social networks in general suffer from its poor user attention to adverts.
Marketers have long been aware that on the internet, catching potential customers once they’ve made a purchasing decision is more cost effective than trying to sell products or services to general disinterested users.
Even still, there remain a lot of brand-focused companies who are more interested in the volume of eyeballs seeing their logo, than any specific buying action, and with the recent surge in local services, it potentially offers a clever way to get more targeted local marketing in the mainstream.
No doubt there are more than a few other companies who will be watching the results of this experiment very carefully.