“Free phone calls” with DialMedia advertisements?

A South African company called DialMedia has launched a product which claims to be able to subsidise “up to” the whole cost of a cellular phone call by playing an advertisement before connecting your call.

In the press release announcing the service, DialMedia said that the service is a world first, with the website saying that their smartphone application is “patent pending.”

According to the DialMedia website, the basic value proposition for users is as follows:

  • 10 Second audio ad: R0.50 rebate
  • Response advert ie: Press 1 to receive more info by SMS, e-mail: R1.00 rebate
  • Advert with option to be called back: R1.50 rebate
  • A network marketing type referral programme where you get an additional 5% of the rebate income of your referrals (this isn’t deducted from them, but added to what is paid to them)

There are a few very important provisos, however.

  • DialMedia does not pay more than the cost of the call.
  • DialMedia does not guarantee that an advertisement will be available for every qualifying call made by you, “due to the targeted nature of the advertising.”
  • All rebate payments will be subject to a monthly “payment administration fee” of R2.85, which DialMedia reserves the right to change without prior notice.
  • DialMedia requires your phone number, the IMEI (unique number) of your device and your bank account information, in addition to some other private information.

In their terms and conditions DialMedia also states that in order for them to provide rebates they have to receive payment from advertisers for advertisements played to you.

How it works

DialMedia requires that you sign up for account, providing your cellphone number, the IMEI of your device, your name, e-mail address, gender, date of birth, province and nearest city.

You also need to say which mobile operator you’re with and whether you’re on prepaid or contract.

Following this, DialMedia needs you to provide your banking details and information such as your monthly household income, type of home, employment status, education level, ethnicity and the type of vehicle you drive. You also need to indicate some topics that interest you.

Spokesperson and co-owner of DialMedia, Philip Bartholomew, explained that they need the IMEI (a unique number given to your phone) to be sure that the message is being played to the right person.

Bartholomew said that the profile information is needed to be able to tailor advertising to a particular user. For example, if you live in Tamboerskloof he said they can inform you of businesses and specials in your exact area and interest specifications.

“Users private information is protected and will never be shared or sold,” Bartholomew promised.

Bartholomew said that they need users’ banking details in order to pay rebates into their account. However, prepaid users receive their rebates in airtime. “Contract accounts cannot be topped up this way,” Bartholomew said, “and we feel users would prefer funds to be available in cash.”

To use DialMedia you need an Android, iOS, or BlackBerry smartphone, though they promise that Windows Mobile and Symbian applications are in the pipeline.

Their application polls a server every hour to check if there’s a more relevant advertisement available for you and downloads it if found. Should you need to download a new advert, Bartholomew promises the downloads will be tiny: around 50 kilobytes (KB).

Should it happen that a user downloads an advert every hour, disregarding the data used for the polling itself, this comes to about 1200KB per day and 36,000KB in 30 days. Depending on your data bundle, this could cost you between R3.50 and R72 per month.

This cost should be considered along with the R2.85 “payment administration fee” to determine at which point the user starts saving money.

Bartholomew explained that should you not have accumulated enough of a rebate to offset the admin fee your rebate rolls over to the following month.

“The user will never have to pay in,” Bartholomew assured.

The full press release announcing the product is below:

In a world first, a ground breaking smart phone application has been developed in South Africa whereby consumers can dramatically reduce their cell phone expenses by simply listening to a relevant 10 second advertisement. The 10 second advertisement is played before the call connects or can be skipped by simply pressing the hash button. Only adverts tailored to the callers stated interests will be played.

Developed and launched by South African company DialMedia, consumers are able to download the application for free to their smart phones, with the application running silently in the background without causing any call disruption, inconvenience or negatively affecting the battery performance.

The product was inspired by one of the owner’s desire to reduce his family’s cell phone costs, whilst at the same time create an innovative marketing avenue for advertisers to find willing listeners within their customer base. After a year of brainstorming various concepts, doing significant research and finally investing in application development, “DialMedia are delighted to now launch a product that addresses this issue for the consumer and will help everyone who signs up to significantly save on their cell phone bills,” says spokesperson and co-owner Philip Bartholomew.

Bartholomew adds: “The concept is very simple, the application plays a short advertisement before the connection of the call, after which it is connected as normal and the consumer receives a rebate for hearing the ad. The call is not interrupted and messages are tailored and location sensitive to be relevant to consumers’ demographics and interests. These advertisements will also offer valuable information for the consumer, including new product launches, discounts, specials and vouchers exclusive to our network. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.  Should no relevant advertisements be available, the call is connected as usual.”

“With the average duration of a cell phone call being 100 seconds, consumers can therefore get up to the entire cost of their call back as a rebate! Strict privacy policies are in place, and consumer information will never be sold to any third parties. We also don’t require any information that can cause alarm for identity fraud and the entire system runs through our secure servers,” says Technical Director and co-owner Chregan O’Flynn.

Consumers simply have to logon to www.dialmedia.co.za (or via their phone’s internet browser) to create a profile and download the application, after which they can look forward to saving on their cell phone costs.

During this launch period DialMedia is running a competition to give away an Apple iPad2 every month for three months. Entry into the competition is automatic once a consumer registers, plus when a user invites a friend who also joins the community they increase their chances of winning. The person who provides the most successful invitations will also be winning an Apple iPad 2. “Users can get an increased rebate by inviting their friends. For each friend joining the caller will receive a loyalty reward of 5% of that person’s rebate for as long as they are using the system,” says O’Flynn.

“It really is just as simple as listening to a short advertisement before the connection of a call that consumers are able to get up to the entire cost of their call back. And as these messages are carefully selected so as to be of interest to them, the consumer in this case always wins!” concludes Bartholomew.

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“Free phone calls” with DialMedia advertisements?