A new New York startup has set out to change mobile phone users’ perception of advertising by offering to pay every time they unlock their device

Locket Will Pay You Every Time You Unlock Your Phone

  Installing an app which displays advertising directly on a mobile phone lock screen and then pays the user for unlocking: this is the principle behind Locket, a new Android app which will pay to rent your lock screen as an advertising billboard. The app displays ads for products and events or coupons on the lock screen and offers the owner the choice of whether to ‘engage’ with the ad or ignore it and simply unlock the device as usual. However, whichever the user chooses to do, s/he gets paid at the rate of one cent per swipe, limited to three cents an hour. When you have built up a little money, the app enables you cash out, exchange it for a gift card, or donate an amount to a charity.

Payment even if the user does not engage

Patrick de Carvalho, co-founder and head of French digital strategy companies Wayma and Wayma Group, points out that “there are already a number of initiatives on other media which offer remuneration to consumers. It does work but it’s never proved a huge success. A new business model is needed.”However, instead of forcing users to lookat the ads, Locket lets users choose whether or not to engage. If they swipe the screen one way, they will be directed to a website, a web page, coupon or video; if they swipe the other way they go straight to their home screen. Patrick de Carvalho nevertheless believes that this type of model quickly reaches its limits, as “once the lure of a reward has been satisfied, what the user is looking for is service,” he argues, adding: “Locket can promise advertisers high click volume, but long term they will need to check how many mobile users really are using the coupons and promotions.”

Targeting based on users’ personal data

The advertising is targeted specifically at the user, based on geolocation, known shopping habits, social data taken for example from Facebook, and mobile app usage history. Pointing out however that the startup is currently surviving through funding from an early-stage investment firm,Patrick de Carvalho suggests that the business model may well have to evolve, perhaps towards a ‘drive to store’ model, underlining that:“It’s the app’s capacity to collect data that will boost its value.” Nor is he worried about the security of the data being used. “Users understand very well how it works and they sign up of their own accord. They can obtain real coupons and in addition they make money. So it’s killing two birds with one stone,”de Carvalho points out.

By Pauline Trassard