How we helped launch Optus Xtra.

From big idea to cool new app.

In late November, Optus Xtra officially entered the market. The Android app displays static ads on the user’s phone lock screen. In return, Optus customers on selected prepaid plans get an extra 1GB data or $2 MyCredit every 28 days.

As the Yes Lab has only been around since October 2015, this was actually the first product to be scaled back into the wider Optus business. And while we’re fiercely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve, it’s safe to say it came with a healthy dose of learnings.

How the idea got started:

Ad-subsidised mobile plans are building in popularity around the world. But, they often lead to a disruptive and frustrating experience of having to close pop-up windows. We wanted a solution that was less intrusive to customers while still offering the full-screen real estate to advertisers.

The making of Optus Xtra:

While the whole project took 13 months from ideation to official launch, it was broken down into four key phases.

The first stage, building an MVP, was actually our fastest. As Postr already had a good foundation to work from, we built the whole thing in just five weeks.

We then conducted a 3 month beta trial. To recruit our 2,000 testers, we sent out an SMS to the eligible prepaid base — we got an incredible response, which further validated our idea.

After that, we dedicated 2 months to reviewing responses, identifying areas of UX improvement and assessing its financial benefit to the business. It was clear there was real potential in this product and it solved a genuine customer problem.

So, we built it.

While we had the basic MVP, we needed our launched product to incorporate seamless CX and look on brand. While crucial, these additional check-points created quite a change of pace from our previous 5-week MVP build.

Our biggest learnings:

1. Speed and innovation are co-dependent

This project was a real-life example of how valuable an incubator like Yes Lab is to a corporation. Speed and innovation work in symbiosis and are quickly stifled when overloaded with a stack of processes. By operating as a separate entity in the beta phase, we’re able to work quickly with minimal internal barriers to get an MVP out there. This meant we could hit the ground running with Postr and avoid the traditional new vendor set-up process which can take weeks to complete.

2. You can’t short-cut brand equity

Optus is a trusted brand for good reason. Privacy, security and branding can’t be compromised. This means you need more people and longer timelines to bring a fully-functioning product to market. As a result, we saw our project team balloon from its original core of 3–4 people in the space of a few weeks. To ensure Optus Xtra was a success, we had to maintain full communication with new team members and not cut corners — even if it meant we had to push out deadlines.

3. It’s not over when the app goes live

Publishing the app was the start of a whole new set of fires to put out. The fact is, any new app technology is going to have a few glitches. But when we find out about these issues through a less-than-glowing app rating, it can be pretty frustrating– especially after working so hard to make it happen. This taught us to stay resilient, think quick and work as a team.

How we picked our partners:

While we met with a few different app startups, Postr cracked the inconvenience issue. By making ads part of the lock screen, customers can unlock their phone and close the ad in one fell swoop — making the UX cleaner and less disruptive. We were sold.

Amobee was an obvious media company for us to partner with too. Not only are they a fellow Singtel company, they have strong relationships with advertisers — especially in the mobile space. They also provided a dedicated project manager, Dawn, who balanced her time between the Yes Lab and the Amobee office.