JiWire Turns Mobile Ads into Apps

JiWire is leveraging its network of 30,000 Wi-Fi hotspots to serve up a new kind of highly-interactive location-aware ad that operates more like an app than an ad. The company is hoping that by packing app-like features into its new Compass ad platform, consumers will be more likely to engage brands and make a purchase nearby.

When users see a JiWire Compass ad on a Wi-Fi log-in screen, they will have an option to expand the banner ad. When they do that, they will get a landing page that includes a map of their location with retail stores nearby where they buy an advertiser’s product. They’ll be able to get walking or driving directions, call the retailer to put an item on hold and get real-time inventory for more than 3 million products, all from the ad. Consumers will also be able to schedule an appointment for a trial or make a reservation.

By leveraging a user’s location, derived through the Wi-Fi hotspot, and marrying that up with clues on intent based on their location, JiWire says it can deliver ads that may be more relevant to users. The company said the key is packaging in features that users might have had to go to another app for, and said engagement has been 80 percent higher in test ads when jiWire injects local and contextual information. Launch partners for JiWire’s ads include Hewlett-Packard (s hpq), Groupon, Ritz Camera and Clinique. JiWire has about 40 million unique users a month on its network.

While there are many rich media ads using video, animation or other visual tricks to engage users, JiWire is hoping that bundling in app-like features is a way to basically lead people to the store. If it works, it could also help further boost local mobile advertising, which BIA/Kelsey predicted will grow from $213 million in 2009 to $2.02 billion by 2014. JiWire’s approach makes sense — mobile users are already app crazy, so why not use that to make ads more useful?

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