A new model for advertising? How to convince me now that I don’t see commercials

Software / Open Source Web 2.0

I haven’t watched TV in over a year. I’ve watched television programs, but I no longer watch TV. I buy or rent programs on DVD, download shows on bit torrent, or watch them on YouTube or on the networks’ own sites.

The side affect is that I no longer watch commercials. Out of all of the above options, the only time I see a commercial is on the networks’ sites. I haven’t missed them. Commercials might very well be on the way out. It is now quite easy to watch entire television shows without seeing a single commercial.

So if fewer people are watching commercials, how does a company get across their message? How do theystand out from their competitors?

Here is just one idea. The internet allows us to do our own research, so they can no longer just tell us we should buy their product. If I decide that either a Dell or an HP would probably suit my needs, what tips me one way or the other? If I’m not watching commercials, and I’ve done my research, how can a company make me want to buy their product?

I’m a grown man, and I believe in things. I believe in open source, open content, creative commons, and education for all. If a company wants to impress me, don’t make a funny commercial or throw a popup ad in my face. Do something that impresses me. A few suggestions:

  • Sponsor a few programmers to work on a promising open source project
  • Donate money to a school who is putting their courses in an OpenCourseWare system
  • Purchase material (journal articles, books, images) and put them in the public domain
  • Find a group that is doing some real good (this one for example) and give them money
  • Hire a few experts to develop content for wikibooks or wikiversity

Of course I’m not really impressed when companies do good things and then wear it on their sleeves. They can’t do good in hopes of getting an ROI, they need to simply do good. But if they do some good, there are now plenty of ways for those good deeds to get out. Social sites like Digg, Reddit, and del.icio.us will report on these things, and the word will get out.

Idealistic? Probably. And I know this kind of things is already happening. There are a lot of companies providing a lot of services. I want to find the best product, but I also want to support the companies giving something back.

So, when a company does something worthwhile, let’s help get the word out. Post the good works to your favorite social site, and help spread the word.

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