July 29, 2010, 5:56 PM

Borders presents ads to shoppers using store Wi-Fi

UPS is running ads on the Wi-Fi home page the retailer shows to store shoppers.

Lead Photo

A Verizon Wireless ad appears at right on the home page of a Borders Wi-Fi network.

Through an arrangement with JiWire, a San Francisco-based provider of location-based online advertising services, advertisers including UPS, Verizon Wireless and Cisco Systems Inc. are running ads on the home page that appears when a shopper in a Borders store logs onto the retailer’s in-store Wi-Fi  network to access the Internet.

JiWire announced this week that Borders Group Inc. had agreed to let advertisers display ads through the retailer’s Wi-Fi networks that operate within all of its more than 500 stores. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and Borders had little to say about the arrangement.

“This is a service we think will serve to enhance the overall Wi-Fi experience for our customers,” a Borders spokeswoman says. Wi-Fi, or wireless fidelity, is a local wireless network that consumers with their own web-enabled laptops or smartphones can use to access the Internet.

JiWire works with a number of clients with Wi-Fi networks, including retail chains, cafes and airports, and makes arrangements to connect the Wi-Fi hosts with online advertisers. In all, its network includes hundreds of brands and more than 30,000 Wi-Fi locations, which are used by more than 20 million unique visitors each month, says David Staas, senior vice president of marketing for JiWire.

In the case of Borders, it shares revenue from the ads with the retailer, Staas says. In other cases, he adds, JiWire deals directly with network providers, such as AT&T and Boingo, to share advertising revenue. In these situations, the network providers work out their own revenue-sharing terms with the retailer, airport or other client that is offering Wi-Fi service to consumers.

The ads generally appear on the home page that Wi-Fi users first access as they log on, but it’s possible to also work out advertising arrangements on other sites accessed through the Wi-Fi network, Staas says.

The main advantage of running ads through a Wi-Fi network is the ability to show targeted ads based on consumers’ physical location, experts say.

“It’s exciting, what they are doing,” says Julie Ask, an analyst at research and advisory firm Forrester Research Inc. “It’s very hard to do location-based targeting inside a store, so to use Wi-Fi advertising to reach consumers in a store is a good idea.”

JiWire provides information to advertisers on the location and demographics of the consumers who typically use particular Wi-Fi networks signed on to its advertising network; it also helps retailers, airports and other Wi-Fi providers find advertisers.

Staas notes that airports, for example, have proven to be good Wi-Fi venues for advertisers like Hyatt Hotels Corp.   that want to show ads to consumers who likely have a strong interest in traveling. JiWire also lets advertisers target consumers by demographic data. Among consumers who frequent cafes within the JiWire network, including both independent coffee shops and those located within book stores, 34% have a household income of more than $100,000, and 67% are within the 25-to-49 age range, Staas says.

JiWire also provides a retargeting ad system that lets advertisers show ads repeatedly to the same consumers as they re-log into the same Wi-Fi network. It enables this for about two weeks before deleting related software cookies.

JiWire has also developed a mobile app that lets consumers find Wi-Fi networks. It’s possible for advertisers to run ads both on that app and on the Wi-Fi networks that app uses eventually find and log onto, Staas says.


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