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Locket, a New York City-based startup that lets you earn money from ads on your Android phone lock screens, is aiming to use its technology for good.

Today, the company is launching Locket Cares, a new feature which lets you donate your earnings to charity. Locket’s first partner for the program is Free Arts for Abused Children, a Los Angeles-based organization that uses creative arts programs to help kids who’ve lived through harrowing experiences.

Focusing on charity is a smart move for Locket, as it puts a friendly face on technology that could feel intrusive (especially if you’re worried about exposure to advertisements).

By installing Locket, your phone’s lock screen is replaced with high-quality, full screen ads from major brands. You earn money every time you unlock your phone, no matter if you interact with the ad or not. You can cash out once you’ve earned $10 from Locket’s ads, which should take about a month for most people. As part of the Locket Cares launch, some of Free Arts’ works will also be displayed in Locket’s ad rotation.

Christopher Crawford, one of Locket’s co-founders, told me in a recent chat that the company has paid out more than $10,000 to its users so far after launching two months ago. The company recently launched My Ads, a new feature that will let you choose the types of ads you want to see.

“We’re really trying to traverse the gap between mobile and ads … but it’s like what Flipboard is doing with full-screen, beautiful interstitials that look like they belonging a magazine,” Crawford said.

Indeed, Locket’s ads are among the most intriguing I’ve seen on smartphones, outside of full-screen ads for newspaper and magazine apps. They’re typically built to be attractive and somewhat engaging. Companies can also break up messaging across several ad screens that you see throughout the day. For example, one sneaker ad campaign breaks down its key features across multiple screens. Even if you never engage with the ad, you end up learning something about the product.

“It’s passive education — the next time you go shoe shopping, you’ll at least remember the shoe,” Crawford said.

As huge companies struggle how to make mobile advertising work, it’s surprising that a tiny startup with only 6 full time employees is tackling one of the most intriguing mobile ad opportunities. The company’s technology is also useful for more than just ads — it could eventually be licensed by companies like Samsung or Google to teach users about their device’s features every time they try to unlock their phones.

“It would be cool to partner with a carrier and do a subsidized data plan, or a free Netflix account when you sign up,” Crawford said. “That’s the direction we’re aiming for.”

Locket has raised $600,000 so far from Great Oaks Ventures and angel investors in NYC.


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