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3UK and Rhythm New Media: ad-supported video a big success!

3uk_logo.gifrhythm.gifEarlier this year the mobile operator 3 UK partnered with Rhythm New Media to launch an ad-funded mobile content service. After several months of operation the results are excellent. This post presents a consumer view of how the service works, reviews the real-time effectiveness measurement system, and takes a look at the results to date.

Signing up for the service
The first time the user wants to access the free video content, they are presented with an “opt-in” screen. At this point they also enter their age and gender, information which is used to target the advertisements which are shown. It also makes clear the proposition that by requesting free videos, they also agree to receive advertisements.

The video experience
Here is a sample of the video and advertising experience. First you’ll see the screens to choose the content, then there is a short pre-roll advertisement. In this case it is an ad for an Aygo car by Toyota. Then the actual video (in this case a clip from The Apprentice), and then a post-roll video advertisement.

One interesting feature to note is the continual emphasis on the fact that the video is free. Many consumers have developed a general reluctance to click on mobile links as they are afraid of incurring large, unknown charges. As you will see, every link in this service has the word “FREE” next to the link to re-assure the consumer that they won’t be charged.

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In this example, the two ads shown – for the Aygo from Toyota and for the Clubbers Guide 2007 from Ministry of Sound – are targeted for the young female market. Viewers from other demographic groups would receive different ads.

Effectiveness measurement
The service also has implemented a real-time effectiveness measurement system. There is a link on the main page that asks if the viewer would like to participate in a survey. It is completely voluntary, with no special incentives offered.

Viewers who elect to partcipate are lead through a 3 question survey. The first question measures spontaneous ad recall, by asking them to enter what brands they think they have recently seen advertised.


The second is a prompted ad recall question, asking specifically what advertisements they have seen.


Finally, there is a question about brand message recall. An image is shown from one of the ads they have seen, and they are asked to choose which was the ad’s main message.


The entire questionnaire normally takes less than 2 minutes to complete, and despite the fact that there is no specific “incentive” or prize for completing it, thousands of viewers have responded, and the response rate is on the upswing.

Many large brands have signed up to advertise on the service, among them:



So how well has this service been received? Here are the numbers from the real-time surveys:

  • In less than 3 months, 15% of the entire subscriber base has subscribed. This is an extremely fast uptake for any mobile service.
  • Viewers watch 3 videos per day on average.
  • There is 25% spontaneous ad recall, with a 75% total ad message recall rate.
  • 95% of the viewers who took the survey said they were satisfied with the service.

(See the 3 UK press release from March 2007 HERE)

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