Optus Is Giving You Free Data (If You Put Ads On Your Lock Screen)

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Ever been stuck without data? Everyone has. Cash running low? Happens to the best of us. Thought to yourself "if only I could use my phone's lock screen as an advertising platform, and get paid in data"? Er, maybe not. But now you can, if you want to.

Optus has an app just for Android users to earn extra data or credit by viewing ads on your smartphone. Here's how it works.

Developed in partnership with New Zealand-based start-up, Postr, Optus Xtra gives you, valued prepaid customer, the option to earn 1GB of extra data on My Prepaid Ultimate, My Prepaid Ultra Plus and My Prepaid Ultra plans, or $2 of extra credit on My Prepaid Daily Plus and $2 Days 4G Ready plans every 28 days by having ads displayed on your phone's locked screen.

You lock screen works just like normal - except there is a static ad, or a video version, displayed. There's also the option to visit the brand's website available. You can customise the kinds of ads you get – beauty, employment, fashion, government and politics, health, money, technology or travel.

There is this little issue though, hiding in the fine print:

Downloading the Optus Xtra app, visiting an ad’s website or viewing a video ad will incur data charges and will also trigger a day’s usage on My Prepaid Daily Plus or $2 Days 4G Ready plans. When customers view ads on their lock screen (without tapping on the ad) it may use up to 20MB of data per month.

"If customers tap to visit an ad's website or to watch a video, the data used will come out of their balance as normal," a representative for Optus said. "Customers will also use mobile data to download the Optus Xtra app if they do so while connected to the Optus data network".

Megan Forster, Director of Product Innovation and Value Added Products at Optus said, "Our prepaid customers have told us they want to boost their data, but are also budget conscious. By giving customers the option to earn extra data through watching ads, Optus is enabling them to enjoy more of what they love, without spending an extra cent."

For advertisers, it means the "opportunity to leverage full screen creative executions served within a mobile phone's most intimate environment," according to Optus, with advertisers "guaranteed a full screen creative canvas and 100 per cent viewability."

Postr developed the platform for lock screen advertising under a partnership model with mobile network operators in NZ and South-East Asia, and now has come into Australia with the Optus deal. It's not the first in country to launch this concept, though.

Matt Berriman, CEO and co-founder of Melbourne-based Unlockd, said "It's encouraging to see Optus and Postr follow us into the ad-funded mobile space because it only helps to increase category awareness of the value exchange model in Australia. Hopefully we’ll continue to see more local carriers do so, in turn helping reduce consumers' phone bill costs."

Berriman said his team anticipated the ad funded trend over a year ago, when they launched thier Beta model with Lebara in Australia in October 2015. The model proved successful and paved the way for further launches in the United States with Sprint-owned Boost Mobile (Boost Dealz), in the United Kingdom with Tesco Mobile (Tesco Xtras), Caribbean with Digicel Group and another three markets set to launch in the first quarter of 2017.

There are a couple of key differences between what Optus is doing, and what Unlock'd offers.

Unlockd's method involves ads being displayed when the smartphone is unlocked, and not displayed on the lockscreen. "As the ad is viewed upon the unlock, as part of habitual user behavior, publishers have certainty of engagement," Berriman says, "and consumption of the 100 per cent full screen viewable advertising - which has helped us secure major partners like News Corp, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook Audience Network and Dentsu Aegis, in addition to high profile brands such as McDonalds, British Airways, Doritos and Lyft".

Berriman said this also provides "at least double" the value back to the consumer.

"Optus Xtra offers an extra 1GB or $2 extra credit, whilst we've been able to offer up to 2GB in additional data or $5 USD (Boost Dealz) and 3 GBP (Tesco Mobile) each month off for our carrier partners delivering a superior outcome its customers resulting".