Many of us here at Engadget know the value of free airport WiFi all too well, having just flown back to our various corners of the globe -- if a cellular or toll-based hotspot isn't an option, free internet access can be a lifeline. JiWire and AWG don't want us to face that dilemma. They're expanding their partnership to use JiWire's location-based ad system for free, sponsored WiFi across the US. Requiring that passengers see a local ad when they hop online is the best of both worlds, the partnership claims: we get the connection we crave, while nearby shops get exposure. Few would call AWG's minimum 1Mbps connection an abundance of bandwidth, but it could mean the difference between catching up on YouTube and twiddling thumbs during a layover. Neither company has said exactly when and where they plan to expand. When just 15 US airports rely on AWG's current service, though, there's plenty of room to grow.
[Image credit: Charleston's TheDigital, Flickr]
JiWire Partners with AWG to Offer Complimentary Ad-Supported Wi-Fi to Meet Consumer Demand
Free Wi-Fi Accounts for 81 Percent of Public Internet Connections
SAN FRANCISCO, CA and MIAMI, FL: January 15, 2012 – In the U.S., Internet access via public Wi-Fi networks has become widely available and largely free of charge, with over 81 percent of all public Wi-Fi hotspots offering free connections as an alternative to paid, according to recent data from the Mobile Insights report issued by JiWire, the leader in location-based mobile advertising.
To meet the growing demand, JiWire announced the extension of the company's partnership with AWG (Advanced Wireless Group), the largest provider of free Wi-Fi in North American airports, to offer free, ad-supported Wi-Fi to the affluent traveler in airports across the U.S. The partnership provides advertisers with access to more than 293 million passengers in major airports throughout the United States-a highly desirable, but difficult to reach mobile audience that remains connected via free Wi-Fi across all of their devices. This agreement is a key pillar in JiWire's mobile audience and location data platform that combines both Wi-Fi and mobile media.
Consumer demand for free, high speed, on-the-go Internet connections is growing rapidly as data-hungry smartphones and tablets continue to increase and the number of public hotspots expands. Industry research overwhelmingly demonstrates that Wi-Fi is now the preferred free-access technology for mobile devices when on-the-go. Together, JiWire and AWG enable venues to deliver Wi-Fi as a free value-added service to their customers supported by the platform's ability to generate significant advertising revenue.
AWG has been leading the way in delivering sponsored Wi-Fi to airport passengers since 2004. AWG's network was designed from the ground up to meet the exponential growth in users and demand for bandwidth. Unlike paid networks, where less than 1 percent of consumers actually connect to the Internet, a typical free network has, on average, more than 10 times the number of users consuming over 20 times the bandwidth. With Free Wi-Fi topping the list of passenger requests at airports, it is no surprise that the effectiveness of this business model is prompting top tier venues to join the AWG network. Major airports including San Francisco, Los Angeles International, Minneapolis and Baltimore-Washington have recently made the transition.
"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with JiWire as the undisputed leadership team in providing truly free Wi-Fi in US airports." said Scott Phillips, President and CEO at AWG. "Consumer demand for free Wi-Fi continues to grow exponentially in our venues as new mobile devices saturate the market. JiWire has proven their ability to engage high-end corporate sponsors and advertisers who desire a direct audience with our valuable audience of consumers in airports. Our customers are happy to engage with the sponsor for a brief period as an alternative to paying for fast Internet access which makes this a win-win for all involved."
JiWire, a leader in the space since 2003, pioneered the ad-supported Wi-Fi business model through location-based advertising. In 2009, JiWire launched Ads for Access, creating the ability for brands to sponsor Wi-Fi access when consumers engage with their campaign. Advertiser sponsorship components include watching a video, performing a search, downloading an app, or linking to a brand's Facebook page. In September 2012, Google Play leveraged Ads for Access to introduce consumers to the variety of rich content available in the new service as part of the free Wi-Fi connection offer. Additional brands that successfully use this platform include Microsoft, Hyatt, Comcast, and British Airways.
"As mobile advertising evolves, solutions need to go beyond the standard ad banner to drive consumer engagement," said David Staas, President of JiWire. "By offering mobile consumers a value exchange, brands can make mobile advertising more effective, which creates a win-win for both consumer and brand. Our partnership with AWG provides that great user experience for consumers while creating maximum impact for brands through sponsored Wi-Fi on any connected mobile device."
The benefit that the platform brings to advertisers is evident in the quality of the consumer experience and their engagement with the brand. Unlike many large venues where free Internet is available but slow and unreliable, AWG provisions at least a 1 Mbit/second connection in large airports, creating an easy-to-use and fast Wi-Fi experience. Consumers are typically connected for 45 minutes after each engagement with an advertiser with an unlimited number of connections available to them. By providing consumers with something they actively seek, such as free Wi-Fi, the JiWire and AWG partnership delivers high value for brands. The brand sponsored Wi-Fi access program delivers an average mobile engagement rate of over 40 percent, a 60-fold lift in performance over standard mobile banners.