Boingo’s sponsored Wi-Fi program caught my eye earlier this week. I’m a student of marketing programs, especially when quantitative measurement is involved. Boingo claims to have increased revenues by up to 35% at selected airports by allowing sponsors to subsidize internet access for travellers. The program requires the user to watch 30 seconds of advertising video in exchange for 15 to 20 minutes of complimentary internet access. Other opportunities exist to interact with the sponsor as well, including the welcome screen, a decision page and so on. At the end of the free period, the customer can then choose to continue by buying a Boingo day-pass, or finish up. Sponsors are reporting an astounding 39% click-through rate.
According to Boingo’s press release, the promotional campaigns “… have been sponsored by national hotel chains that wanted to communicate key amenities to a highly targeted audience, by leading search providers that wanted to fuel trials of their newly launched search tool, and by consumer electronics manufacturers whose products are targeted at early adopters.” In other words, if you’re a business traveller, stuck in an airport, and need Wi-Fi access for a few minutes, then Boingo’s sponsors might actually be delivering relevant products and services for you.
A long time Boingo subscriber myself, I checked into my own usage, and discovered that 28% of my Boingo sessions are under 20 minutes in length. It wouldn’t make sense for me to switch to their pay-as-you-go model because of the volume of my usage. However, if I was a casual user then watching a short video about a relevant product in order to gain access to a few minutes of internet usage might be very attractive. After all, in 20 minutes you could easily synch your email, download a few songs or television episodes to watch on the flight, or grab a specific piece of needed information from a web site.
And who can argue with a 39% click-through rate?