Mobile World Congress 2014

An app that pleases advertisers and consumers?

The world of mobile advertising can be a tricky one to crack, yet one emerging Android app believes it has the perfect plan, both for advertisers and consumers. It designs advertisements in such a way that they always display on the lock screen of smartphones.

The app, called Slidejoy, pays customers to view the adverts every time they look at their phones, thus helping users to knock a few dollars off their phone bills. It may only be a few weeks old, but it could have the potential to transform how mobile advertising works.

(Read more: 'Mobile shift is happening,' Facebook execs say)


The move of online commercials onto smartphones and tablets and away from desktops will increase in 2014, with spending on mobile ads set to rise by 37 percent, according to research firm Gartner. It sees mobile ad spend rising from $18 billion this year to $42 billion by 2017.

Slidejoy's arrival comes after a recent global study from BBC World News, which found that mobile advertising was twice as effective as desktop advertising among the general population, and up to four times more effective when targeted towards affluent consumers.

Enter Slidejoy, only three weeks old and with only about 12,000 downloads. But Chief Executive Robert Seo told CNBC the company was still refining the product and had not yet focused on marketing.

So how does the app work?

"Slidejoy is an Android app that you can register with through Facebook or just an email address," he said.

"Once you do that, automatically you get ads that start to appear on your lock screen. You have a choice to slide to the left or to the right. If you slide to the right, then you just unlock your phone and get taken to your home screen. If you slide to the left, then you engage with that ad and get taken to see more information about that ad."

(Read more: Google Has the Same Mobile-Ad Problem as Facebook)

Users get the same amount of money paid daily whether they slide to right or left each time. The money can be cashed out via PayPal, donated to charities, or put towards gift cards.

And how much can a customer earn per month?

"We just launched, so we have between $2 and $10 that we are paying out right now," said Seo. "But in the next few weeks, users will see a higher pay out range as more advertisers come on."

While Slidejoy has only just begun, Macy's, J Crew, Toms and Groupon are already part of the scheme, either directly or through mobile ad companies.

Benefits over other models

Currently — as Seo admits — Facebook is king when it comes to mobile advertising. Its targeted ads and vast well of consumer data are a big draw for companies keen to penetrate the millennial generation and garner information on how successful their ads are in generating sales.

"Facebook has reach beyond the vast majority of companies out there," Seo said. However, he stressed that Facebook's model was not necessarily great for advertisers.

"When was the last time you clicked on, or remembered a Facebook ad? The fact is, we (Slidejoy) get reviews and comments from our users that say, 'I'd like to see these kind of ads more,' which is definitely different from what advertisers are used to."

Mobile is the future of advertising: CEO
Mobile is the future of advertising: CEO

Of course, there are other novel mobile advertising models out there, with song-identifying app Shazam, for instance, becoming increasingly innovative.

At the Super Bowl football championship this year, ads for Budweiser's Bud Light and Jaguar cars used Shazam to promote related free songs and video games, thus engendering a new level of user engagement.

(Read more: Shazam not just a one-touch-wonder: CEO)

Shazam can also amass consumer data to help companies understand consumers more and devise more effective ad strategies.

Slidejoy is similarly using data scientists to make its app gradually learn about users — and the greater the information it can provide to advertisers, the bigger the payouts for consumers.


The BBC survey stressed that mobile advertising appealed to more affluent consumers. However, will an affluent smartphone user feel the need to save a couple of dollars every month?

In response, Seo highlighted Amazon's discounted Kindle, introduced a few years ago, which came with ads, and sold for $10-15 less than a device without ads. "My sister, who only stays in five star hotels, she has a discounted kindle," he said.

Seo concluded that just like for wearable tech, inconspicuousness and subtlety was key for advertising.

"The fact that it (Slidejoy)'s not intrusive is a huge deal," Seo said. "One of our reviews said it's less intrusive than your stepmother, so it's pretty funny how open they (the consumers) are to advertising. So if consumers are open to advertising, what's the best way to reach them?"

—By CNBC's Kiran Moodley. Follow him on Twitter @kirancmoodley