WiFi as a Subtle Advertising Tool

WiFI as a Subtle Advertising Tool

Fox Emerson WiFI as a Subtle Advertising

As a young boy, advertising was quite entertaining, it would be someone smoking a cigarette-telling you how cool he is, a woman applying makeup and letting you see how cool she is or something equally as insulting to the young and impressionable. So, how does using WiFi as an Advertising Tool differ from my experience? And… wtf is it?

We live in an age that is changing so quickly, if you’ve been around long enough, your head will be spinning. If you’re over 30, then you will know that technology has transformed your life completely. As a child, you would have been playing with physical objects, dolls, toys, Monopoly etc. If you’re under 30, you’re going to be a little less astounded by the shift. Under 20, you’ll think it’s cool, but not worth Tweeting.

We are all on the constant lookout for WiFi, because most countries provide a limited amount of data and also because, some of us are traveling with our international mobiles or for any other reason. Using a cafe’s WiFi, a restaurant, a bar’s or anywhere that provides Free WiFi, is much more convenient. But at what cost?

This is the age of unscrupulous and clever advertising, using WiFI as the perfect way to get a product in front of you. I know, because I’m a writer, I spend most of my life looking for Free WiFi so that I can work anywhere, anytime. This is where I started to notice that WiFI is a Subtle Advertising Tool.

At Starbucks or Costa coffee in London, you have to sign-in with your email address to access the time-limited WiFi. With many of them, you will see that you only have a short period of time to use the ‘Free’ WiFi. The catch here, is that you have to provide your email address with most ‘Free’ WiFi these days. That’s the new silent form of advertising. SPAM. With your email address, many, many things can now happen.

Although there are many unscrupulous and morally questionable things that can be done with your email address, a lot of companies wouldn’t do it. Companies as mentioned above, with too much to lose, will not sell your email address to companies who will pay big bucks for it.

There’s a whole underlying industry out there wanting targeted, qualified email addresses. Did you know that? If you’ve ever bought anything, anywhere, with your email address, that information may be forwarded on to willing buyers. I know this because I know someone who actively buys and sells blocks of email addresses. There are companies out there who will pay big bucks for your email address and information about what you’re interested in.

Take Amazon as an example, their internal systems, like Google, are so clever, that you’ll never leave the online store without being shown a whole ton of items on your way out. And then there’s the emails, you have to actively unsubscribe to Amazon’s emails, because you are going to get related emails every couple of hours. Did you buy a book on horror? Amazon will send you constant emails on all themes horror related. Did you buy a USB charger for your Samsung phone? You’ll be barraged by Amazon’s sales engine which will show you hundreds of other Amazon products.

Perhaps using WiFi as a Subtle Advertising Tool isn’t news to you, but it was to me. The realisation that times had changed, that advertising today, is on my phone. Every fucking minute. By email In my face.

And it’s targeted and intelligent. I get emails from companies I’ve never heard of, addressed to me, referencing a product they shouldn’t know I’ve purchased and asking me if I’d be interested in this other related product.

All this, because I sat in some random cafe, using ‘Free’ WiFi, which was ‘Free’, based on me providing such a small, tiny, insignificant thing, my email address.

One last note. When you are looking for WiFI, isn’t it interesting to see so many options of ‘Free’ WiFi, in certain locations? All the big names will suddenly appear. IBM Guest WiFi, Zara Free WiFi…

Nothing in life is ‘Free’, not even that ‘Free’ email address Microsoft or Google give you.


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