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3 starts giving away content

Advertising-supported video from April

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Mobile media company (aka: network operator) 3 will start giving away video content in April, paying for it with carefully-placed advertisements from companies such as Microsoft and Unilever.

In the past, 3 has been accused of giving away network services in a desperate attempt to gain customers - an expensive strategy, but one which has seen it gain 3.75 million customers in the UK alone.

Its data tariffs are competitive and recent deals with Orb and Slingbox could even see customers using 3G bandwidth - all of which will be expensive for 3 to manage, so additional revenue is going to have to come from somewhere.

3 will promote the service as an addition to its current videos, for which users have to pay. Instead of paying money, users will be asked their age and sex to enable more accurate targeting of advertisements. The adverts viewed by each customer will be carefully tracked by Rhythm New Media, which is partnering with 3 to deliver the service.

Mobile advertising is increasingly seen as a golden goose by the industry, though so far the most effective form has been spam SMS messages promoting dodgy contract changes.

Certainly, the mobile phone screen is a very personal place, and one on which many brands would like to make their mark. It will be interesting to see if 3 can convince the goose to lay some golden eggs. ®

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