Starbucks is one of the biggest providers of free Wi-Fi in the U.S. With over 11,000 locations, they have created their own portal and a basket of news site access and other resources for those who log on to their network. I’m a frequent user of their service, and I’ve watched it evolve over the years. The latest twist was a bit surprising – after you click to accept their terms and conditions (someday I’ll actually have to read them!), you are taken to a full screen ad with an embedded video. The ad persists for at least a few seconds before giving you the option of bypassing it to get online. It’s the next screen that’s an interesting exercise in choice architecture.
When you click to bypass the ad, it doesn’t actually go directly to the Starbucks portal. Instead, a box with a big button appears in the middle that reads, “WiFi Connect & Learn More.” Many distracted Wi-Fi users will likely not even spot the small blue text link under the button that reads, “No thanks, just take me online.”