Ad-funded MVNO Blyk launched this morning in the UK with 45 ad-partners.The company is offering customers 43 minutes of voice and 217 texts a month for free as long as they opt in to receive up to six ads to their phone a day.
Forty five advertisers have partnered with Blyk at launch, including Sony Ericsson, Coca Cola, SonyBMG, I-play, Ford, Adidas and Mastercard.
Ads will be delivered to the phone in one of three ways - as an MMS, regular SMS or something Blyk calls message 'tagging', whereby ads are attached as footers in texts sent between two people.
There's no above the line marketing campaign - Blyk has seeded the service with early adopters within its key 18-24 year-old demographic, with new 'invitation-only' customers able to sign up via the Blyk website.
At a launch event in London this morning, Blyk execs said they are targeting a potential audience of seven million people in the UK, with the monthly voice and text allowances in line with average usage in that demographic.
If a user wishes to go beyond their monthly allowance they can buy more airtime on pre-pay (Blyk piggy backs the Orange network), charged at 10p per text and 15p per minute of voice.
In terms of content, Blyk customers will be able to browse the mobile internet at a cost of 99p per MB. There's no content downloads portal yet, but the company has appointed a head of content and will be rolling out 'personalised' portals in 2008.
User-generated classified ads are also part of Blyk service roadmap.
No word yet on roll outs in other territories, though Blyk says it has a 40 million target audience in the EU.