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Clear Karma Internet Hotspot the Mobility versus Mobile Location Edition

Clear Karma Internet Hotspot the Mobility versus Mobile Location Edition

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When building mobile marketing campaigns and looking at the use cases around how customers find your app, facebook page, twitter, or walk into a retail store, it’s prudent to think in terms of total mobility. A disconnected consumer within the mobile path to purchase is becoming a less relevant scenario, but there are still many gaps in the market.

My mobile workday recently added an hour at each end, commuting daily from San Francisco to Silicon Valley. As comfortable as it is to read my Kindle on the train, I’d rather make use those early hours knocking out emails and tweaking presentations, which requires fully connected devices including my laptop.

I had a great experience in Austin, TX over SXSW using Clear, but was unable to purchase Clear online for my home in the oversaturated Mission District of San Francisco, CA. Alternatively, I opted for the pay-as-you-go social Wi-Fi service Karma. Karma is also subsequently built off of Clearwire’s network, the same as the Clear 4G wireless service, but with no coverage area restrictions for ordering the device. Personally, I only average 500-700mb per month on my current phone carrier data plan; I wasn’t yet ready to give up my grandfathered AT&T unlimited data plan to enable tethering from my mobile phone.


The Karma device costs $79 and includes 1GB of data upfront. The hook is that each person who connects to your open Karma Wi-Fi hotspot earns both you and the connecting person a 100MB of free data usage. Additional data is 1GB for $14. That’s it. Receiving Karma took about a week and the setup process, though not  entirely smooth, was still simple enough. In and out of BART tunnels connectivity is on-again, off-again as you’d imagine with any cellular wireless provider, but is stable enough around the city and on Caltrain down the rail. The speeds are nothing to brag about but usable.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of understanding the source of location data and the value of location-based marketing. Inaccurate Carrier IP data and a person on their home Wi-Fi on their iPad are widely different cases. Location data from user registration data passed by many publishers and apps will appear as lat/long information but actually coordinates the user in the middle of the city and not at the location they’re currently nearby. As a rule of thumb, DMA and regional campaigns will on average underperform Zip Code targeted and hyperlocal ad units by at least 10%.

On a final note, wanting to growth hack sharing my Karma in public, I had a recent spat with their community manager over not having the ability to custom name your Wi-Fi hotspot. The social protocol of messaging an individual is @ (e.g. @broodman), but also placing a symbol in front of the network name would place Karma at the top of the list for anyone searching for an open Wi-Fi connection. Karma currently only allows you to name your hotspot as [First Name]’s Karma, Free Karma by [First Name], and Karma Wi-Fi.


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