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Starbucks Takes Cue From Airports With Branded WiFi

  |  August 13, 2010   |  Comments

The coffee retailer has struck agreements with The Wall Street Journal, Zagat, Nickelodeon, and others to offer store patrons "subscription-level" content.

The new Starbucks Digital Network will supply users with free editorial content that's otherwise considered premium, while also pushing music titles via iTunes, a spokesperson for the coffee retailer told ClickZ News. First reported by Mashable, Starbucks has unveiled plans to leverage its free WiFi offer at all retail locations as an in-house digital branding vehicle.

starbucks-wifiIt appears the Seattle-based brand will not sell third-party ads via the network. "Starbucks has different business relationships with multiple content providers," a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail. "Though the Starbucks Digital Network itself will be free of advertising, users may encounter ads on partner sites."

There's no doubt that Starbucks patrons will appreciate the complimentary WiFi access going forward. To further engender brand loyalty, the company said that "subscription-level access" to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Zagat, and Nickelodeon's preschool brand Nick Jr. Boost would be available through the retailer's portal. The spokesperson didn't specify exactly what kind of exclusive content would be involved, though.

When Starbucks' so-called digital network goes live this fall, it will become one of the first retailers to incorporate a web-access-based branding play similar to those provided by numerous U.S. airports and hotels. In addition, the access homepage will also pitch Apple iTunes downloads in a digitized version of the coffee retailer's cashier CD point-of-purchase displays.

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.



Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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