Oct 21, 2009 at 08:39 PM
written by

Opportunity in "Web Exclusives?"

In New York, it's not often that you get a 70 degree afternoon in late October so I took the opportunity to do some "field work" in Madison Park.

Planning to do some admin, I didn't have blogging on the brain until I opened up my google search box. If you try to google anything on the signal I'm using (24-hour fitness), you'll get redirected to Yahoo's search results for your query. Doing a little more digging I found that I was being guided by a "Wifi search assistant," which recommended I use Yahoo, but which I could opt out of should I choose to do so.

This experience got me thinking. For municipal wifi services (i.e. parks, transportation, etc.) and traditional sponsorship properties (stadiums, venues, etc.), could "web exclusives" to a wide variety of offline categories allow properties to extract additional revenue? Properties (or their service providers) control the signal, and while not all event-goers want or need the internet to enhance their experience, plenty do.

For instance, on a hot summer day I'm guessing a park full of city dwellers would be looking for all kinds of things including weather information, ice cream and ATM's. Could Citysearch or Yelp exclusively offer "local happenings" at every U.S. Open Olympus series stop? Super Bowl organizers estimated 100,000 out-of-town visitors attended festivities last year. That's a lot of bookings, delays and re-scheduled flights. And a potential competitive advantage for Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.

Could properties partner with specific companies in these categories to create "web exclusives" that either passively or aggressively guide users to a specific destination? With more advanced technology and properties seeking to tap into a wider range of categories, look for this opportunity to be explored.

Open internet proponents would probably say that's a bad idea. Others might say it's the give-and-take of "free." I see both viewpoints, so I'm throwing it out there. What are your thoughts?