Free lunches are a myth. The same, it seems, applies to free Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi access provider Boingo is proving that today with its purchase of Cloud Nine Media, a marketing firm that specializes in selling sponsored advertising via free Wi-Fi services.
While selling banner advertisements is one thing, Cloud Nine Media’s strategy ensures that Wi-Fi users know who’s funding that free access. In one example campaign, a welcome page forces Wi-Fi users to view an advertisement for Google Maps before they are allowed to start web browsing. You probably can’t find a better example of a captive audience than that.
Besides Google, Cloud Nine Media has also worked with companies like AOL, Amazon, Symantec, and Hipmunk.
Boingo, however, isn’t new to the model of sponsored Wi-Fi. Earlier this summer the company announced a deal with Google that give users free Wi-Fi in exchange for their eyeballs on some Google Offers deals. The Cloud Nine Media buy is a clear extension of model and proof that Boingo is invested in pursing the sponsored Wi-Fi strategy.
Boingo has its eyes on other projects as well. The company is a big part of a ongoing effort by New York City to bring Wi-Fi to 277 New York City subway stations over the next few years.