For those of you with handsets on the 3 phone network right now, you're about to get ad-supported music videos for free. The operator has teamed up with Sony BMG to provide on-demand access to music videos "from top Sony BMG artists".
From today, the service, powered by Rhythm NewMedia, treats you to 20-second (!) pre-roll advertisements before each video, though you'll be exempt from any network data charges.
Over the last couple of years companies have managed to successfully monetise music videos -- primarily served as forms of promotion for single sales in the past -- directly with music fans. It's quite interesting to see that as people have become used to paying for this promotional material, an alternative, ad-supported business model can exist, whereby users effectively sit through advertising in order to watch another advertisement, albeit a very entertaining one.
But are mobiles ready for pre-roll video ads?
With the success of ringtone sales, we've seen that easy methods of payment (billed to your account or deducted from your pre-pay balance) encourage premium purchases.
Perhaps this is not the case with music videos. 3 has over 5,000 music videos for sale at £1.49. This new, free venture will surely subtract from those sales, and we're sure 3 isn't setting itself up to lose money -- suggesting there's not much to be lost.
The main problem we see for ad-supported music videos is that of time: do people spend enough time staring at their handsets to justify 20 seconds of ad for every three-and-a-half-minute video? Two years ago, no. Today? Quite possibly, and we'll be interested in seeing figures after a month or two. -Nate Lanxon