Mobile operator 3 is introducing advertising to its video service from April, with an expanded range of free downloadable and streamed video content coming with targeted advertising attached.

At a briefing in London yesterday, 3 UK marketing director Graeme Oxby explained that the introduction of personalised advertising would significantly increase the amount of video content available to 3 customers, free of charge, on its Planet 3 portal. However, 3 will still continue to offer its premium paid-for entertainment and information services without advertising.

The company is working with Rhythm NewMedia to introduce the ad-funded service. It can send different advertising to customers watching the same clips, with targeting based on demographic data (such as age and gender). Advertisers can buy advertising space targeted at specific demographics, and specify frequency of advertising to maximise campaign impact.

Advertising is expected to take the form of short TV-style ads. At least 10 major brand advertisers are expected at launch, Ujjal Kohli CEO of Rhythm NewMedia told Tech.co.uk; two brands so far confirmed include Microsoft and Unilever .

Ad value

The introduction of the ad-funded service follows research by 3 into attitudes towards mobile advertising - which indicated that 69 per cent of customers would welcome advertising if it allowed access to free content - and previous successful sponsored services on the network from the likes of Coca Cola, Canon and Red Bull.

"We're always looking at ways of bringing our customers great new content on the Planet 3 portal," Oxby commented.

"However, we also know that people want to browse around and watch stuff for free - by introducing advertising supported content we can massively increase the range of video clips available. Ad supported content is going to be an important part of the mobile world going forward."