German city offers commuters free journeys if they watch four adverts on smartphones

During a trial run in Düsseldorf, the daily limit of free tickets ran out in just three hours

German city offers commuters free journeys if they watch four adverts on smartphones

[Rheinbahn Düsseldorf]

In the German city of Düsseldorf, transit operators have launched a new app that enables passengers to avail of free bus and rail tickets – provided they take the time to watch four adverts on their smartphones.

Created by the startup Welect, the new app offered Düsseldorf commuters the option to watch four 20-second adverts, chosen by the viewers themselves from a limited list. In doing so, the passenger saves him or herself from paying the €2.60 charge of a regular one-journey ticket.

The project works by recruiting local businesses to advertise on the platform, promising commuters a limited number of free journeys available daily. During a practice run of the app, there were only four adverts available: one for a perfume shop in the North Rhine-Westphalian city, and three more for an energy company.

Just three hours into the test, the day’s allotment of free tickets was already met.

WelectGo officially launched at the end of the October, and has since been downloaded onto more than 20,000 devices, according to Der Westen newspaper.

“We didn’t expect this kind of success, we thought it would be around 1,000 tickets by the end of the year,” said Welect co-founder Philipp Dommers. The startup must now find more local advertisers prepared to pay for their own 20-second spots, because the local rail authority does not offer a rebate for the sold tickets.

“The advertisers can choose how many times their advert can be watched by consumers, meaning that commuters may find that passengers beside them could get a free ticket but they won’t be offered any more,” Dommers explained.

The app has been praised by Rheinbahn, Düsseldorf’s local transit operator, with the company spokesperson saying that tickets are now being sold to people who may not have otherwise chosen to take the bus or train that day.

Welect now plans to expand its app to other cities across Germany and hopes to crack the Netherlands, as well.

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