Pay for wireless data using time: watch ads, take surveys

Have more time than money? Aquto lets you pay for your music streaming, email checking, and photo downloading by devoting your time.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor

Have more time than money?

Boston-based startup Aquto lets wireless customers to pay for data -- for all those Google searches and music streaming and what not -- by watching ads, taking surveys, downloading apps, and otherwise devoting time to a brand. Businessweek reports.

It’s an intriguing option for customers, who, until now, have had only three options when they hit their limits: Curtail use, pay overage charges, or upgrade their plan.

For example, watch a 30-second ad via the Aquto app, and you might get 10 megabytes -- enough to download a few photos or check your inbox. Use your earned data right away or save it for later.

Aquto also plans to reach customers through mobile ads. If you tap on a banner in, say, Pandora, you’ll see an offer to get data in exchange for watching the video.

The point, from the advertiser’s perspective, is to increase the chance of engagement by dangling data as a reward. Aquto gets paid by the advertisers -- via mobile ad agencies and networks -- and either buys data in bulk from wireless providers or shares revenue with them.

This is part of a larger experiment where a third party -- neither the wireless company nor the customer -- pays for data. And if content providers can’t afford to pay for data use on a large scale, by bringing in advertisers, Aquto creates new revenue without adding cost for content providers or for customers.

Although, potential advertisers should be aware of the kind of customer they’re likely to reach: people who are more money-constrained than they are time-constrained. “If you have more time than money, by all means watch the ads,” says Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics, which tracks the telecom industry. “If you have more money than time, skip the ads.”

The startup has raised $8 million in venture funding. Right now, Vodafone customers in Portugal can get the service, but it’ll come to the U.S. next month.

[Via Businessweek]

Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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