Microsoft's Bing and JiWire will announce Monday an advertising campaign, along with the results, that lets consumers gain free WiFi Internet access at participating hot spots in exchange for one search on the engine.
Supported by JiWire's mobile advertising network, which reaches about 20 million unique consumers monthly, Bing's nationwide campaign runs across WiFi hotspots in airports and hotels.
The campaign aims to make more people aware of Bing and allow them to try the search engine, according to David Blumenfeld, senior vice president of strategy and business development at JiWire. "We're all creatures of habit, so giving away free Internet access in exchange for one search on Bing is a great way to change user behavior," he says.
The campaign, which launched in September at thousands of locations, has attracted between 30% and 40% of consumers to Microsoft's search engine, Blumenfeld says, declining to name specific hot spots.
Good news for Microsoft. "The typical online engagement rates for ads range between .1% and .2%, so when you think of what we're seeing, it's off the charts," he says. "Let's just say the campaign has performed well above average and Microsoft plans to continue the promotion."
JiWire works with between 60% and 70% of all North American passenger airline services and hotel chains. Today, the company supports about 100 advertising campaigns.
JiWire's opt-in program, known as Ads for Access, allows advertisers to give consumers something in exchange for their time. Sometimes it means watching a video ad or taking a short survey.
The Bing campaign was developed by UM, formally known as Universal McCann, in collaboration with JiWire. Bing customized JiWire's Ads for Access platform to create a "search for access" campaign. The simple campaign has been successful in driving a high volume of consumers to at least trail Microsoft's engine.
As marketers know, when consumers "engage" with an ad, it doesn't always lead to conversion. Aaron Goldman, managing partner at Connectual, points out that sometimes the consumer is less likely to click on the ad because they are immersed in the content.
Research firm comScore released a study Friday that found Microsoft sites captured nearly 15% of time spent online worldwide in September, making it the most engaging global property. Google followed at 9.3% and Yahoo at 6.3% worldwide.
In North America, Yahoo came in at No. 1 with 11.2%, followed by Google with 9.1% and Microsoft 8.6%, according to comScore. The numbers exclude visits from mobile phones and public computers, such as libraries.