Internet accessibility is a marketer's issue

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The Google -EarthLink partnership to blanket San Francisco with Wi-Fi should be viewed as the first of many Google forays into broadband delivery. Given its growing infrastructure and objectives, it's not a huge reach to envision Google someday providing broadband access to the entire planet. Moreover, while its mottos, "Organizing the world's information" and "Don't be evil," sound consumer-friendly, perhaps "give 'em access, get 'em hooked, then give 'em ads" might be more on target. It may speak to the true business motivation behind Google's broadband access initiatives.

After all, increased access generates intriguing opportunities for marketers. Because as more people connect to the Web with mobile and wireless devices, the prevalence and convenience of performing searches increases, as does the ability for marketers to deliver targeted ads to qualified searchers.

So how will the accessibility factor play out for marketers? Picture your prospective customer standing on a street corner waiting for the light to change. He is between 25 and 44 using his PDA to connect to the Internet via wireless broadband access provided by Google. Once he logs on, he sees a reminder that today is his wedding anniversary and realizes he has yet to purchase flowers for his wife. He quickly performs a search on Google for florists in his ZIP code.

Since he is automatically signed into his Google account, not only is the search results page personalized based on his past search behavior, but the algorithm also takes into account the location of his mobile device. One of the things Google receives for providing free access is the ability to determine precisely where its users are tapping into it. The user selects a result based upon an offer listed in the description that promises a discount if he walks into this floral shop in the next 10 minutes and shows his search results page to the person behind the counter.

This golden intersection, where demand, personalization and location all converge, explains why Google is so willing to provide this access. As a marketer, wouldn't you pay top dollar to stick a sign right in the middle of it all?

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