Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Starbucks Free WiFi Uses Clever (Deceptive?) Design to Encourage Ad Clickthroughs

Just about everyone has used Starbucks free WiFi.  With 11,000 locations nationally, it is one of the largest providers of free wireless connectivity in the US.  So when the process of logging on includes a neat design trick to encourage users to click through to an advertiser, it could very well become a model for other companies.

The logon for Starbucks WiFi is indeed clever. After the initial redirect and acceptance of terms, all users have to watch at least a few seconds of an advertising video.  The next screen is a full page ad for the sponsor, with a large bright button that invites the user to "WiFi connect and learn more", which leads to another advertisement for the sponsor.  But on that same page, in unobtrusive pale-blue lettering, is the option to choose “No thanks, just take me online.” At least the first few visits, most visitors are likely to choose the big pretty button and suffer through the ad.

Hunter Communications Original News Source
Forbes

Link to article:
Starbucks Designs to Monetize Wifi

Excerpt: "There’s a lesson here for all marketers – if one choice is more profitable or preferred, you can design your website, form, or other vehicle in a way that greatly favors it. In this case, the preferred choice is brightly colored and put in the form of a 3-D button that tells the user, “I’m something you can click.”

To further increase the probability that users will choose the ad option, the text leads with 'WiFi Connect' and continues with the innocuous-sounding 'Learn More.' This text will draw far more clicks than, say, 'Visit our Sponsor’s Website.'

The final step in maximizing the conversion rate is to de-emphasize the less desirable (non-revenue) choice. So, the option to proceed directly to the internet (in this case, the Starbucks portal) is put not in a clickable button but rather in a plain text link. The font is mostly lower case and the color is pale blue. The design isn’t deceptive, though – the text is underlined, which suggests clickability, and it’s placed in proximity to the big connect button. Some may find this manipulation of user choice problematic, but I have no issue with it. I’m a consumer of their free Wi-Fi, and I understand that maintaining this service is a considerable expense. I didn’t necessarily enjoy the commercial interruptions during Breaking Bad, but they enabled AMC to deliver great entertainment. At least Starbucks gives you the choice of bypassing the ads, even if they don’t do so with a big orange button."

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