Behavioral targeting may no longer mean that the advertiser buys media armed with a browser-based cookie and a pixel tag. It appears that public Wi-Fi access hotspots can tell more about a person than some initially thought.
A study released by JiWire on Monday analyzes Wi-Fi access trends between January and June 2009. The report, which highlights market trends for advertisers, provides a snapshot of trends and the type of people who access data over public Wi-Fi.
Knowing the specific longitude and latitude of a person builds the foundation to serve up an ad as the person sits at Starbucks on Market Street in San Francisco, but integrating demographic data, data collected from local surveys, and prism clusters based on "ZIP-code-plus-six data" from Nielsen Claritas provides specifics.
Targeting consumers over public Wi-Fi access points has become more appealing for several reasons. For starters, past research shows that people spend on average of five hours daily outside the home or office, although many stay connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi, according to David Staas, senior vice president of marketing at JiWire.
Out-of-home marketers that reach out to consumers through billboards have been relying on a similar type of strategy for years. "With the shift, marketers want to know how this change impacts consumer lifestyles and behaviors, and the best methods to reach consumers who stay connected," Staas says. "We also see a 70% increase in the number of mobile devices accessing public Wi-Fi in the first half of this year."
Since June 2004 through June 2009, there has been 400% growth in public Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide. New York ranks No. 1 with 887 access locations for the top U.S. cities, followed by San Francisco at No. 2 with 872 and Chicago at No. 3 with 792.
In North America, public Wi-Fi access users jumped to 18.4%, up from 5.4% in March 2009. The majority -- 55.3% -- of people access public Wi-Fi through hotels and resorts, followed by 27% at airports, 10.5% at coffeehouses, 4.4% on cruise ships, and 2.7% on metro.
Most people who connect through public Wi-Fi in coffeehouses are upscale males in management positions, according to the JiWire study. In fact, 74% are male and 40% have management titles. About 80% of Wi-Fi café users connect locally. Forty-one percent connect for both work and fun. Of the 38% of Wi-Fi café customers who make purchases, 51% buy personal items, 15% make business-related purchases, and 34% make personal- and business-related purchases.
JiWire also looked at how people who frequent coffeehouses differ in different cities. So, the company analyzed coffee shops in San Francisco and Dallas. People in both cities had many of the same attributes, such as age, whether they owned a home or banked online.
Things that differed included household income. People who frequent coffeehouses in Dallas are 41% more likely to have a household income of more than $200,000 compared with San Francisco. In Dallas, 28% were likely to have a home valued at more than $500,000, and 17% more likely to have management titles.
Mobile has promise, but is largely seen as experimental. There had been concerns about tracking metrics, Staas says.
JiWire has built partnerships with more than 30 network providers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile, to deliver media and advertising across 30,000 public Wi-Fi locations, from coffeehouses to college campuses reaching about 20 million unique users monthly.
Staas says the industries that have had the most success targeting consumers over Wi-Fi include travel and hospitality, automotive, consumer electronics, entertainment and telecom. For example, Hyatt experienced a 39% click-through rate for a promotion that required people to take a virtual tour of the hotel demonstrating amenities for business travelers in exchange for free Wi-Fi access time.
The results from the survey reflect 2,057 randomly selected people connected via Wi-Fi in more than 6,500 coffee shops across the United States.