Calling itself a “mobile audience media” company, JiWire connects advertisers with laptop, tablet and smartphone users taking advantage of public wifi connections. The company sells off of a comprehensive list of free and fee-based wifi connections across the country. Users who connect to those wifi hotspots see relevant location-based ads from JiWire partners.
The company’s Ads for Access program uses ads as currency for free private wifi sessions (in, for example, hotels where guests typically pay a fixed daily or one-time fee for access). Its latest rollout, JiWire Compass, offers ad viewers a deeper brand experience by showing them ads relevant to their geographic location, complete with directions, inventory availability and product purchasing information.
JiWire’s strategy is predicated on studies that have show mobile users — millennials in particular — are much more willing to offer their location data than most users were in the early days of mobile communication. As this generation embraces a different definition of personal privacy — and is open to more direct interaction with brands —companies like JiWire are positioning themselves to take advantage.
Advertisers, too, are just now associating their ability to connect with a customer with that customer’s physical location. Until the explosion of mobile ads, the broadest use of hyperlocal advertising was the occasional billboard telling you which exit had that great antiques warehouse.
In addition to providing advertisers with opportunities and channels for maximizing public wifi viewership, JiWire includes measurement and assessment of user behavior when engaging with ads featured in public wifi environments, so that its clients (including Microsoft, Charles Schwab, Volkswagen, Sony and Westin) can make media plan tweaks.
The company also publishes research reports covering the mobile media niche; its quarterly Mobile Audience Insights Report is available for download here.
With corporate headquarters in San Francisco, JiWire announced last year that its partnership with British Telecom meant that it would now have active media channels in over 4,000 locations, with over 30 wireless internet providers serving as JiWire partners.
While the mobile niche is increasingly crowded with advertisers, there seem to be few facilitators echoing JiWire’s offering; companies like LocaModa are more focused on signage and place-based interactivity (bars, clubs, etc.)
Although JiWire itself is practically invisible in the interaction between wifi user and advertisement, they bear witness to the shifting relationship between major advertisers and wifi users. Quick saturation seems likely, especially among potential customers who have repetitious wifi usage patterns (e.g. going to the same Starbucks at the same time each day for extended computing).
An additional question arises concerning the quality of mobile creative. While some online advertising, particularly from national and international advertisers, has lately been well-crafted and engaging, ads being pushed to smartphones are the opposite. JiWire has an opportunity to work with advertisers in an additional capacity — helping them hone their message to make it not only available to mobile users, but appealing as well. Although the Compass service is a natural next step in mobile consumer-brand interaction, it could crash and burn without a strong and intuitive offering from advertisers.