Virgin Mobile to give airtime for ad-watching

/ Source: The Associated Press

That next cell-phone call from your teenager might be brought to you courtesy of Diet Mountain Dew.

Virgin Mobile USA is launching a service June 14 letting customers of the company’s prepaid plans earn airtime minutes for watching or reading ads.

Customers will be able to sign up for the service, “SugarMama,” at Virgin Mobile’s Web site, where they can watch 30-second video ads. Afterward, they’ll be asked some questions about the ads. Correct answers yield one minute of airtime for every ad.

Virgin Mobile charges 25 cents per minute under its Minute2Minute plan, meaning a customer who watches the maximum of 75 ads per month could be earning $18.75 in airtime for less than an hour’s work.

Customers will also be able to sign up for text ads that are sent to their phones.

Virgin Mobile has signed up three advertisers so far: Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox gaming console division, PepsiCo Inc. (which will be advertising Diet Mountain Dew) and Truth, an anti-smoking campaign funded by tobacco settlement money. ( is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC News.)

Virgin said it is the only plan of its kind in the wireless industry. Similar deals have been available for landline long-distance minutes.