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Chevrolet and Gogo target in-flight Internet market via Facebook

Gogo has partnered with Chevrolet to offer passengers? free access to Facebook on equipped flights as the aero communications service provider taps the growing demand for reliable in-flight Web access for which the estimated commercial aircraft market opportunity is $402 million.

In-flight advertising is not a new concept, as personalized spaces and objects such as trays, headrests and audiovisual messages have long been used for advertising purposes. As an additional source of revenue, this channel represents an ideal prospect to reach a highly receptive audience that is momentarily captive. Gogo?s positive reinforcement with Chevy showcases benevolence and ease-of-use via free trial and bets that once connected, users will pay to browse other Web sites.

"Before it was really context or customer," said Gogo CMO Ash ElDifrawi. "Now you have both colliding when they are a highly captive audience and this is just one more way we are keeping airline passengers connected to their lives on the ground .?

In-flight connectivity is available on more than 2,000 Gogo equipped commercial aircraft, from airlines such as American Airlines, Air Canada, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America.

Accommodating the connected consumer
Through July 20, passengers may log into Facebook by launching the browser on their laptop, tablet or smartphone device while in-flight and look for the Chevrolet sponsorship advertisements, which upon clicking the promotion will gain them free access to the social network.

In-flight advertising solves many problems as reaching a defined audience is tough for marketers in any industry. With assurance that readers are enthused, mobile ads have a true global reach that hits both domestic and international travelers with a penchant for spending pre, during and post journey.

With various channels and means of reaching consumers, the daily bombardment of messages, correlates to decreasing response rates and low ad recall. Time is the advertisers? biggest enemy. Consumers have too little time to absorb the advertising they are presenting with in traditional settings, but while in flight, their stagnancy exposes them to material that is the only distraction.

High altitude effect
Earlier this year Gogo began to offer free, in-flight mobile Wi-Fi to passengers who connect to on its airline partners, meeting demands for up-to-the-minute weather information in-flight.

Passengers who log onto the Internet with any Web enabled device, will automatically be directed to Gogo's Web site. From there they can simply connect to or through the Gogo homepage, though desire to surf the Web further will require a subscription fee.

In October, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it would allow consumers to use their mobile devices below 10,000 feet in the air - within the U.S. - opening up new opportunities for airlines in mobile.

For instance, Delta has launched several new mobile efforts and products in the past year to gear up for the eventual roll-out of approved mobile usage on planes. In August, the airline equipped 19,000 flight attendants with Microsoft devices to accept cashless payments onboard, and is replacing paper manuals with Microsoft Surface 2 tablets to help pilots from lugging around a 38-pound bag with books and maps.

Additionally, Delta rolled out an interactive consumer-facing iPad app in January that pulls up relevant in-flight information about the places that the plane is traveling over.

With consumers now able to use their mobile devices in-air closer to the ground, there are some interesting marketing opportunities for airlines with in-flight Wi-Fi. Gogo already has discovered a new market for payments, as it targets travelers in the act of traveling via mobile with Amazon?s Paypal one-click checkout feature.

Mobile reaches new heights
While Gogo holds about 80 percent of the domestic market share, its monopolized brouhaha is being encroached upon by AT&T, who equally shares the vision of a robust ecosystem of streamed video, texting, radio, and other in-flight entertainment, and is publicly acting upon it.

One of the biggest complaints with in-flight wireless connectivity is the speed. While it?s possible to connect to the Web to check email or do some light browsing, trying anything that requires even a moderate amount of bandwidth like streaming a YouTube video slows the connection to a crawl. If a great deal of passengers are connected, that bandwidth narrows even further.

As Gogo rolls out its next-gen offerings that will undoubtedly compete with AT&T in the near future, its current limited freemium options suggest the provider is coaxing passengers into familiarization that it hopes will produce a comfort factor to deter customers from choosing its rival.

Current prices are $14 for a one-day pass, $39.99 for one airline and $49.99 for all GoGo equipped airlines. A price increase is expected to occur when GoGo soon launches an in-flight Talk & Text option along with hybrid Ground-To-Orbit wifi, that will offer a full 60Mbs download capability?meaning Wi-Fi speeds up to 20 times faster then what is currently offered today.

"This sponsorship opportunity is a great way for passengers to keep connected through social media while they travel,? Mr. ElDifrawi said. "This is another example of how Gogo is working with top brands in creative ways to market their brands to passengers at 30,000 feet."

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York