For airports, the connected world is fraught with challenges in keeping pace with travelers’ digital demands, but it also presents a host of branding and revenue opportunities for airport network operators ready to ride the mobile wave.
The new digital landscape has fundamentally changed how customers approach the travel experience. Today’s business travelers are early tech adopters and conspicuous consumers of data — sometimes via more than one device at a time. A recent study found that more than half of all business travelers bring three or four devices with them when they travel.
Travelers also want to be constantly connected, both to their mobile device and to the Web. In this era of increasing connectivity, reliable airport Wi-Fi becomes a consumer must-have, and a vehicle that enables advertisers to reach consumers via their mobile devices, all while generating new revenue streams for airports.
The Mobile-First Traveler
To better understand the consumer engagement opportunity for airports and advertisers, let’s first take a look at what devices consumers are toting in airports, what they’re doing with them, and how these behaviors have altered traveler expectations and airport business models.
- Today’s mobile-first travelers are equal opportunity device lovers. In its managed and operated airport venues, Boingo Wireless found that laptops, mobile devices, and tablets are seeking Wi-Fi in increasing numbers. More than half of all devices actively seeking Wi-Fi access were mobile devices such as iPhones and Android smartphones.
- So, what are these travelers doing with these devices? In addition to checking-in on email and social networking sites, Boingo data points to an increasing engagement in high-bandwidth activities like streaming video and audio (think Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and Spotify). These high-bandwidth activities have generated a 40 percent increase in mobile data consumption. A considerable portion of that growth is in the upstream direction, meaning travelers are uploading and sharing more photos, videos, and other self-generated content when they use public Wi-Fi.
- Consumer data demand shows no signs of slowing. In fact, Cisco has projected an 18x increase in mobile data demand by 2016, a trend that is set to strain airport networks and require costly Wi-Fi and cellular infrastructure upgrades to meet demand, especially with the approach of Wi-Fi offload roll-out, which will allow carriers to move users from crowded cellular networks to more cost-effective Wi-Fi ones.
- Travelers want Wi-Fi. A recent study from FlightView found that Wi-Fi access is a top priority for travelers, and the number one factor that improves the experience during a flight delay.
What does this change in consumer behavior mean for airports? Nothing less than a sea change in revenue generation and network maintenance.
Today’s travelers have become receptive to a value exchange. Recently, a study fielded in major U.S. airports within Boingo’s Cloud Nine media platform found that 80 percent of travelers don’t mind watching an ad in exchange for complimentary Wi-Fi access.
This powerful combination of customer demand, coupled with a traveler’s willingness to trade a small amount of time for access, creates an opportunity to generate airport revenue that sets the stage for a new value-laden branding opportunity: cost-per-engagement advertising.
Wi-Fi Triple Win
Cost-per-engagement (CPE) advertising is enjoying increased popularity in airports worldwide. CPE advertising puts the emphasis on engagement to keep customers and advertisers happy and keep the airport bottom line healthy.
Here’s what cost-per-engagement advertising means in terms of Wi-Fi sponsorship. If you’ve ever connected to free Wi-Fi in a public place, you’ve probably had to accept the network terms and conditions or complete some other simple steps before beginning your session. Wi-Fi sponsorship takes advantage of this user experience to create a captive audience that guarantees users spend 30-45 seconds interacting one-on-one with an advertiser’s message. This focused interaction has been shown to improve brand awareness, recall, and purchase intent.
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