Google has been teaming up with Boingo, a leading international provider of Wi-Fi hotspots and associated software, in order to create and expand a free Wi-Fi network across the U.S. Their model is based on the promotion of their products and services through these Wi-Fi networks. Before users log on, they must view a splash screen which contains ads, such as one for Google Play.
A recent deal with Boingo has seen Google expand this free network, adding 4,000 more hotspots around the country. This new access to Boingo’s managed network gives Google an increased opportunity to serve their ads to users as they log on. Previously, Google targeted hotspots in malls, expanding outward from New York City. This latest expansion will now include restaurants, hotels and airports into the campaign.
This is a massive sponsorship buy for Google, who are leading the way in showing how free Wi-Fi hotspot networks can be used as promotional tools. Companies have thus far been experimenting locally, but Google has taken a giant step on the national stage in this regard. This has captured the interest of both hotspot providers and advertisers, who stand to benefit in their own way: providers collect higher ad fees, and advertisers gain direct access to an audience of potential customers, especially if the ads are locally targeted and linked to businesses around the hotspot.
There is an interesting catch to all this, of course: these free hotspots will not be available to Apple device users. The campaign is only targeting Android and laptop users. If you connect with an iPhone or iPad you will end up having to pay for the hotspot at the standard rate.
This is yet another way that Google is shaping the landscape of the online world, now translated into the real world of Wi-Fi hotspots. This is just another reason why business owners and their online advertising and SEO services partners must stay up to date on these trends if they are to properly navigate these wars between internet giants and build their future.