Will In-Flight WiFi Negotiate App Content?

The news that soon Deutsche Telekom and Inmarsat will be working towards high-speed broadband in European airspace is bound to get both app users and marketers listening. From a consumers point of view the thought of constant (WiFi) data in an industry that, lets say, hasn’t had as much exposure to WiFi until only very recently. From a marketers perspective there is ample opportunity for apps to capitalise on in-flight passenger behavioural habits and maximise the effect they have. Whether its e-commerce or a bid to distribute branded content, app owners can begin to think about planning around this additional (European) sphere, where users could potentially be convinced to turn to mobile as an integral aspect of their overall flight experience.

As businesses develop new strategies to broaden their influence it’s vital that they acknowledge cultural shifts, and in this case they’ll be appealing to a particularly ‘mobile’ audience. According to Statista Western Europeans are responsible for a considerable amount of mobile data, with 341,399 terabytes currently used per month and 2,414,260 predicted in 2019. Coinciding with the emergence of new technologies on-the-go data is now a day to day essential, with this latest news proving that even more airlines are succumbing to the growing “data” need.

Taking the above into consideration it has to be asked whether if, how and when app owners begin to shape their content around pleasing aviation passengers. Not only this, but how can they use airspace as an effective method in achieving their goals.

Before we go on it’s important that app owners take into consideration the behavioural traits of passengers before they go about shaping their content. Typically we associate passengers with being restless and bored but most importantly, extremely receptive! Research by Columbus Direct reveals the extent of people’s spending habits whilst in transit, with the average individual spending £52 in the airport and on their flight. Once in transit, and inevitably looking for another way to be entertained, there’s no reason why this spending/receptiveness can’t expand to mobile app interaction.

How can this be achieved?

We’re sure that you’re probably wondering how app developers can go about differentiating their content from aviation and non-aviation users. There is a way, and we’re already seeing this being implemented in mobile strategies today, thanks to iBeaconsIf there was a way for apps to recognise when an individual is in transit then they will be able to configure their output to suit their needs at that specific time. We’re already seeing this being implemented inside airports, with the likes of Virgin Atlantic already trialling the technology at the beginning of 2014 at London Heathrow. Similar technology was also used at New York’s JFK Airport this year. 

For more information on WiFi end points we’d recommend reading this interesting article.

What can be done?

The possibilities for app owners are endless as long as they get the content right and utilize it at the right time. Push notifications would allow apps to notify users of their availability during the flight. For instance a gaming app could prompt its user to continue from where they left off (conveniently a Freemium model which requires in-app purchases) which would then lead to that game being played throughout the duration of the flight. Indeed all e-commerce apps could benefit from their splash-happy recipients.

Who will benefit?

It’s not only external parties that will benefit from in-flight WiFi being introduced, you have to also consider the internal implications. Airlines are constantly looking to sell add-ons whilst they have you in their air space, whether this be a set of head-phones or a discount off your next holiday if you book there and then, in-flight WiFi could prove as an effective way of getting you to purchase these. As more airlines establish their own apps they have to recognise the opportunity here to interact with their users here during the airline’s primary service.

Despite not being rolled out until 2017 in-flight WiFi has the power to revolutionise the content within all apps, not just those outside of European airspace. Taking all of the above into account, perhaps it’s time that brands begin to look at their strategies in a different light and look towards the skies for inspiration.