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UK Wi-Fi media channel launches with BT deal

Location-based US media company JiWire launches in the UK today having struck deals with BT and Boingo that will provide a network reaching upwards of 4.6 million users every month.

David Courtney: JiWire US chief executive

David Courtney: JiWire US chief executive

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JiWire, launched in the US in 2003, uses Wi-Fi network log-in pages to deliver location-based advertising targeting "on-the-go" consumers.

Almost 185,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, including venues such as cafes, hotels, airports, and wireless cities, across the UK will offer the system from today.

Chris Bruce, chief executive of BT Openzone, said the company had doubled the number of minutes its users spend online via a Wi-Fi connection to one billion, across two million hotspots.

Bruce said: "JiWire has pioneered the monetisation of the US Wi-Fi marketplace for several years and is a leader in location-based advertising across online and mobile, and thus makes an excellent company for us to work with as we look to engage our consumers and add value to our venue partners."

Display ads and "ads for access", where, for example, a user may agree to watch a video ad in return for a limited amount of free access, will be sold in-house. Advertising is delivered in front of the log-in procedure, with advertiser’s sites white-listed so users can browse landing pages prior to connecting.

In the US brands advertising on the platform include Jeep, Virgin America, Hyatt Place and Microsoft, which used the "ads for access" platform as part of its launch of Bing, giving users free Wi-Fi access in return for performing a search.

JiWire US chief executive David Courtney said with "tremendous growth" in the states "now is the right time to expand our business to Europe".

He added: "More people are on-the-go and using a variety of devices to remain connected, fuelling consumer demand for Wi-Fi and driving advertiser demand to reach this audience."

The UK company will be run by joint managing directors, and investors in the business, Mark Hindmarsh and Peter Jones, a former TBWA\GGT exec.

Jones said JiWire, which has 70% of the US market, would be looking to increase its UK coverage as well as targeting UK advertisers.

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