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Ad Age is reporting that after completing a test period at 25 San Francisco Bay area businesses, including Philz Coffee, a thousand merchants in 50 countries now have a Cisco wifi system that includes a Facebook consumer-facing front end.
“The idea is simple: Allow people to use their Facebook logins to access free wifi in business establishments from mom-and-pop restaurants to international airports,” Ad Age writes. “The service provides Facebook with more location data to give to merchants, while giving Cisco and the merchants themselves an easy way for people to connect.”
At this stage, according to the article, MGM Grand Casinos and the Bonefish Grill seafood chain are the only significant retail brands in the wifi service rollout.
Using the Facebook Insights tool, merchants will receive from Facebook anonymized data about customers who have checked in at their locations, and use Facebook’s analytics to see breakdowns in age, gender, interests and other check-ins.
Ad Age quotes Erick Tseng, product manager, special products at Facebook, “This is a major step toward getting into the local space.” Advertisers using the derived data can better understand the types of people who visit stores and help merchants find more groups to target via Facebook ads. “That’s probably the most leveraged thing they can do using the data,” Mr. Tseng said.
Frequent visitors may choose to check-in automatically via the system. In the article, Facebook’s Tseng points out that settings will allow private check-ins or expose them to their friends on Facebook, and that merchants can allow wifi log-ins without using Facebook.
“Facebook will not track any web browsing activity or any other interactions through the wifi system once people check-in to wifi spots through Facebook,” Mr. Tseng said. He added, “Facebook has found interest in the service among retailers, restaurants, conference centers, amusement parks, and even churches.”
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