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|http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/201 ... -broadband
Samba is an ad-funded mobile broadband services for laptops, netbooks and iPads that has launched in the UK using Three's network.
The MVNO invites users to watch video advertisements in return for free credit. By watching 2.5 minutes of ads per day, a user can earn the amount of data that the average 3G tablet consumer uses in a month (around 517MB, Cisco research). Users can pick from a grid of different ads to watch to top up their credit.
Users can choose between a Samba microsim for iPads or a dongle for laptops and netbooks. The standard SIM costs £5, while the Samba Dongle and SIM combination costs £25. Once they get online, they must set up an account to allow them to accumulate credit. In order to top up, they must visit the advertising grid, where they will be greeted with a selection of six different ads. Wired.co.uk was greeted with Clinique, TFL, TomTom, Gillette, Mclaren Automotive and an NHS cancer campaign. Samba says that it is also working with Agent Provocateur, Sims, Volvo, Nissan, Paramount Pictures, Xbox Kinect, Pot Noodle and Dell.
Users can select the video-based ad that they are most interested in interact with it -- from what we can tell, they tend to be more interactive than simple 30-second spots, with gaming elements or stuff to click on in order to find out more. Once you've watched the ad, you get rewarded with credit and are invited to share that fact on Facebook and Twitter. On average, each ad you watch will give you 3.5MB of free data. Most users (at least those who have been trialling the service) watch three ads per day, which gives them roughly enough data to view 30 average web pages and send 100 emails.
The only limit on the number of ads you can watch is the amount of deals Samba does with advertisers -- so "heavy" internet users (read: most Wired.co.uk readers) will likely run out of ads to watch in order to feed their web habit, at least in the early stages of the service.
Advertisers will also put a cap on the number of times that a user can meaningfully watch an ad before it becomes click fraud -- it isn't valuable to them to have users blindly clicking an ad to replay it over and over again. Using this approach, Samba claims to be able to deliver a click-through rate to the advertisers' websites that is six times market average -- although this is still at a rather modest one to two percent.
For those that can't be bothered to watch a load of ads, there is the option to buy cash top-ups -- 250MB for £3.49 and 500MB for £5.99. Alternatively, Samba credit can be earned when users make purchases through a partner retailers, such as iTunes or Pricegrabber.
Samba will start to target the ads based on the data a user supplies when they sign up and the ads that they choose to watch. It will not target ads based on browsing behaviour.
Samba was founded in the UK in 2010 by the former head of global sponsorships at Orange, Ben Atherton. It has funding from Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O'Brien, who owns Digicel, the leading telco in the Caribbean. Atherton told Wired.co.uk that Samba looked at youth-oriented ad-funded mobile service Blyk very closely before launch and sought to improve upon the value exchange offered.
Atherton explains: "With Samba you earn the credit watching ads at a time that is convenient for you and then have access when you need it. It also marks an end to that hunt for a coffee shop, pub, hotel or library to get online -- with Samba you can be online anytime, anywhere."