With an array of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets etc supporting Wi-Fi connectivity, it has truly become a need for operators to invest in harnessing this technology with their cellular networks.
Driving this need are almost all major connectivity markets such as travel, hospitality, retail, sports events, entertainment, healthcare, education and more, and hence Wi-Fi is now getting right at the helm of operator’s strategy to better target its end customer base and establish better relationships with their customer base.
Almost all mobile devices have Wi-Fi as their primary wireless access technology today. New technologies and standards, such as the Hotspot 2.0 hold great promise to improve and simplify the end user Wi-Fi experience.
Even though, operators are investing in Wi-Fi to strengthen their bond with their customers, there are doubts on the monetization part and this is where new age Wi-Fi driven advertising models can carve a new revenue stream for operators.
There is no doubt that the Wi-Fi opportunity is massive as analysts have predicted that the Wi-Fi market will touch $93 billion mark by 2018, according to research firm Markets and Markets.
Over the past many years, Wi-Fi has evolved and now emerged as a truly carrier grade technology, which is clearly able to manage data, reach out to the subscriber base in an area and most importantly minimize the users need to access data over cell phone service plans, thereby reducing strain on operator’s network.
However, there is a challenge as according to various estimates, over 51% of hotspots offer free Wi-Fi and hence customers are less willing to pay for the Wi-Fi service. But this does not mean that Wi-Fi cannot be monetized.
Wi-Fi in Advertising
Actually, Wi-Fi is very special in many ways, as a communication driven technology, Wi-Fi can target hyper-local ads in unique manner and create revenue generation opportunities for operators.
As part of this activity, the service provider can share personalized and relevant offers, offer mobile payment facilities, generate marketing lists, track consumer behaviour and build their brand as well. It also helps in developing targeted and hence relevant advertising model where users get only those Ads where they have shown close interest levels.
When it comes down to monetizing Wi-Fi, advertising based on Wi-Fi subscriber access can be a big game changer for mobile advertising. As a truly next generation technology, Wi-Fi can provide much more accurate information on user location (typically within 3 to 5m [9.8 to 16.4 ft] or less) this is quite better than the information provided by cellular networks. This calls for much better targeted Wi-Fi driven advertising. And the use of Wi-Fi is opt-in, which means that customers are ready for accepting advertising rather than the alternative mobile spam model.
And as today’s Wi-Fi has its roots in almost all the devices, starting from smartphones, to tablets and phablets, this also means that people access Wi-Fi through larger-screen devices, which can be more-advertising-friendly and hence people are likely to get better advertising experience using Wi-Fi.
Owing to these attributes, Wi-Fi based mobile advertising has already started delivering greater CPM in malls at Canada, Singapore and Dubai.
Wi-Fi and Analytics
In addition to the AD campaigns, Wi-Fi analytics can actually inject a lot of intelligence into how businesses look at their customers and help them better understand their own mobile customers, including what types of customers are using their hotspots, for how long, at what time of day and even where in the venue they are accessing it from. All this information can guide them to build better networks.
And on the other hand, with this type of intelligent data, potential advertisers can pinpoint the right users for their brand messages and go another step ahead and offer them exactly what they are ready for, or rather what they are waiting for. This way, a technology like Wi-Fi can be of huge value for operators, businesses as well as end customers.