Consumers are now demanding anywhere-wireless internet access and they are expecting it for free. They see Wi-Fi as just another utility, like water and electricity. They expect it there, they expect it free and they expect it to just work. This poses a significant challenge for venue owners. So, what are the options for monetizing Wi-Fi without a direct exchange of money?

  1. User Journey
  2. Presence Analytics
  3. Indoor Location-based Services
  4. Application and Website Analytics
  5. Social Media

User Journey
The user journey defines the step-by-step process that a Wi-Fi user walks through to attain Wi-Fi access. This may consist of a login page and a post-login page or something in between. Restaurants can monetize Wi-Fi by gathering data to analyze on these pages and provide relevant branding, content, ads, services and offers. Optional and mandatory fields such email address, age group and gender can be configured for data gathering or data can be obtained through Social Media login options such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. Techniques such as http user agent can be leveraged to determine device type, OS and browser.

In its simplest form, the user journey is utilized as a platform to provide general advertisements. For example, the user will view third party advertisements, watch a video, download a coupon, or download an app before getting access to Wi-Fi. In addition, more targeted content could be delivered by leveraging analytics data like presence/location, proximity to surroundings, demographics, device/OS/browser type, websites/applications and social media likes and interests. The more targeted the content, the more effective. For example, if you were sitting in the stadium enjoying the game and you receive a notification from your mobile device indicating hot dogs were half off, that’s useful. If you receive a notification that hot dogs are on sale at your local grocery store back home, that’s annoying.

Data gathered throughout the user journey (ie. email address) becomes an asset that could be leveraged for future marketing campaigns. Demographics and social media integration automatically provides the owner with other useful information.

Presence Analytics
When a Wi-Fi enabled device such as a smart phone or tablet comes within range of a wireless network, it sends a message called a probe request that asks for the identity of the network. While probe requests are not used by most Wi-Fi networks if the client device does not associate or connect to the network, these simple transactions from un-associated client devices could yield important information. For example, probe requests can be analyzed to determine; how many people are nearby or walking by (passersby), how long the passerby hangs out (dwell), if they come inside the location (visitors), how many passerby vs visitors (capture rate), how long a visitor hangs out (engagement) and if they are new or repeat visitors (loyalty). This brings the same type of metrics that are available to websites to brick-and-mortar facilities. You could deliver relevant content, ads, services and offers to loyal visitors or visitors within proximity to something, while also determining the effectiveness of new displays and marketing campaigns at a single site or multiple. One could analyze which sites or areas within a site are drawing the most traffic during which hours to staff accordingly.

Indoor Location-based Services
We are all familiar with GPS providing turn-by-turn directions to help us navigate from one location to another. The problem with GPS is that it only works outdoors or within the coverage zone of a satellite. How can it work well indoors? The solution is location-based services provided (LBS) by Wi-Fi. LBS can be used by mobile devices to provide turn-by-turn directions inside schools, hospitals, malls, hotels, casinos, convention centers, stadiums, airports, train stations, subways, coffee shops, etc. Targeted content from analytics data such as presence/location, proximity to surroundings, demographics, device/OS/browser type, websites/applications and social media likes and interests could be leveraged to influence where the user goes and to push content to them as they navigate. Like user journeys, location based services are a great platform for targeted advertising and can help underwrite the cost of the installation and generate an on-going revenue stream.

Application and Website Analytics
Application and Website Analytics scour data around which websites people go to, which search terms they enter, which applications they use, which social media they engage in (and for how long), if they buy something, and other relevant information.

One of the many applications for Applications and Website Analytics is quantifying and embracing showrooming. Showrooming is the practice by shoppers examining merchandise in your store without purchasing it, while shopping elsewhere online with a mobile device to find a lower price. Application and Website Analytics bring you wide visibility into this practice allowing you to quantify the impact by analyzing things like the products your customers browse online, the search terms they use, and the social media they engage in, and at the same time embrace it by redirecting shopper’s mid-surf and offering price matching, faster delivery and onsite fulfillment.

Social Media
Instead of people entering their email address, filling out a form, creating an account with yet another username and password to remember during the user journey, you could use Social Media login options such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google to allow access to the Wi-Fi. Not only does this make for a great user experience for the end-user by allowing them to simply login with their social media channel credentials, the venue gets something in return. It is not a direct exchange of money but they can benefit from new likes, follows, posts, and tweets – social media exposure. More importantly, they get access to a whole wealth of information such as email address, demographics, likes, interests, etc. allowing the venue to deliver targeted content, ads, services and offers like never before.