Skyfii on verge of Diageo deal in bid to push ad-funded public wifi wider

SkyfiFree wifi provider SkyFii is close to striking a deal with alcoholic beverages company Diageo Australia to provide its service in more than 500 venues as it looks to expand the “underdone” ad-funded networks across the country.

SkyFii today confirmed it is in negotiations over the deal which could see the mobile technology business, specialising in advertising and wifi, grow its total number of sites across Australia from just under 300 to more than 800, if the deal to put the service in more Diageo pubs goes ahead. The company has been trialling the service in 100 Diageo venues across the country for the last ten months.

“In the mobile advertising wifi space we are now the largest,” Wayne Arthur CEO of SkyFii told Mumbrella. “The value in the mobile advertising proposition is obviously in scale. These types of partnerships give us a national footprint and thereby allow us to provide a national audience to advertisers.”

SkyFii offers consumer free access to wifi internet, but provides contextual advertising in return for access.

“There are two layers of contextual advertising. The first layer is contextual by environment and the second is by individual,” said Arthur.

“It is essentially about serving each consumer the right type of ad tailored to that person based on the environment they are in. For example because you are in the pub we may serve up something to do with liquor.”

Mumbrella understands the company is also trialling its product with the Hungry Jack’s restaurant chain, opening up the potential for up to 300 more locations.

Last year’s Mobile Trends Report, released by IAB Australia, identified the lack of free WiFi in public spaces an impediment to the expansion of location-based advertising.

“This market is hugely underdone in comparison to other first world economies around the globe, such as the UK and US,” said Arthur. “Hopefully wifi will be available for free in every cafe, pub, hotel and ever major public space soon. That is certainly the trend both here and overseas.”

One of the biggest concerns around wifi advertising has been around consumer privacy. Arthur said:  “There is the tracking of mac addresses which are themselves completely anonymous. So unless a person registers to use wifi and consents then they remain anonymous,” said Arthur.

However, he noted that where consumers consented the company could then retarget them at different sites to ensure they received communications relevant to their interest.

“Yes we do have technology that allows us to observe and monitor movement through the network environment to give rise to behavioural patterns etc,” he said.

“The premise behind retargeting and tracking is to serve the right ad to the right person in the right environment.”

SkyFii’s competitors in the space include ISP IInet, which announced earlier this year it was launching a free wifi service to help “build its brand”, and a number of other smaller providers such as Delion and Easyweb Digital.

Nic Christensen 


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