New ARN app will serve ads when you un­lock your phone

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

By Austyn Al­li­son Dubai-based ra­dio op­er­a­tor Ara­bian Ra­dio Net­work will branch into tele­coms ad-tech when it launches Un­lockd in the UAE this week. Un­lockd is an app that serves a static ad when a phone user un­locks his or her phone.

It has li­censed the re­gional rights to the tech­nol­ogy from the com­pany’s Aus­tralian founders, who have al­ready launched it in mar­kets in­clud­ing the UK, the US and the Caribbean. The app will be launched in part­ner­ship with UAE tele­coms provider Eti­salat, and will ini­tially be avail­able for users of An­droid phones in the UAE.

The tech­nol­ogy works by serv­ing users static ads when they un­lock their phones – some­thing the av­er­age user does be­tween 80 and 150 times a day. Users opt in and are re­warded with op­er­a­tor credit or dis­counts on their tele­phone bill of up to AED15 ($4) a month. Pro­gram­matic tar­get­ing will soon be avail­able

Steve Smith, who stepped down last week as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of ARN, em­pha­sised three at­trac­tions of Un­lockd: “It is pre­mium,” he said. “The con­sumer has opted in, so that gives it a pre­mium. The sec­ond thing is cre­atively it’s full-screen. It’s beau­ti­ful, so cre­atively there is a lovely an­gle there as well. And the most im­por­tant thing is it’s be­fore you get into your phone, be­fore every­thing else.”

By serv­ing an ad be­fore the user reaches their web browser or so­cial me­dia apps, Un­lockd could wrest some mo­bile ad spend away from the likes of Face­book and Google. ARN may also use it to pro­mote its own con­tent, but al­ready, Smith said, “com­mer­cially we are hav­ing ad­vanced dis­cus­sions with ma­jor agen­cies and the ap­petite is very pos­i­tive”.

ARN – which has tra­di­tion­ally only op­er­ated within the UAE – plans to roll out the tech­nol­ogy to other mar­kets within the Mid­dle East. Smith would not say which mar­kets would come next, but Eti­salat has a foot­print in both Saudi Ara­bia and Egypt, as well as sev­eral smaller mar­kets in the re­gion, so there is scope for ex­pan­sion with­out hav­ing to find new tele­coms sup­plier part­ners.

While the launch of Un­lockd may al­low ARN to ex­pand be­yond the UAE, it also al­lows it to flaunt its cre­den­tials be­yond ra­dio. “This will make it very clear that ARN is not just about ra­dio any more,” said Smith. “It hasn’t been for some time, and I think this mes­sage will cut through.”

Jumping the queue: Un­lockd will serve ads be­fore a user reaches so­cial me­dia

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