I'm always fascinated by businesses that break old paradigms, and I was introduced to BrightSpot by someone I met by chance at a party on Lake Washington last month.
BrightSpot media attempts to increase the value of internet advertising by rearranging the relationships between advertiser, content, and consumer.
In the traditional model, advertising subsidizes consumer access to content: I get free searching because advertisers pay Google to place ads on my search results, and pays them even more if I click on one of the ads. For Google, substitute Fox Sports, Forbes, and any number of content providers.
No surprise, the advertiser may be reaching people completely uninterested in the advertiser, which makes the placement costs wasteful. The ads rarely add value to the user’s experience (think of those annoying ads that precede MSN news videos) and users may avoid the content as a result.
The proposition for users
BrightSpot treats the time users spend viewing ads as a user-owned asset that can be used to pay for other content they want. In other words, the BrightSpot users earn dollars for watching targeted commercials on Brightspot.tv that can be applied to select content partners. A BrightSpot user can contribute to a charity, get Gamefly subscription, or Napster To Go subscription by agreeing to watch ads on Brightspot.tv.
The proposition for advertisers
Advertisers reach a targeted audience that has selected their ads to watch and are assured the user watches the entire commercial. While anyone can become a Brightspot user, Brightspot targets users who have already enrolled for online subscriptions (Napster users for example), who are more likely to view ads to support their online habit.
BrightSpot builds user profiles which help advertisers to have a deeper understanding of the audience and reduce wasted placement. Advertisers can also use keywords to describe their target consumers’ interests, buying habits, and general marketing demographics.
The proposition for content providers
Content providers like Napster get a set of potential subscribers whose tastes are well known and segmented, and whose time watching ads can be directly converted into subscription payments.
Is this different?
Basically, Brightspot arranges for users to be paid to watch ads. This isn't new. Brandport Sweepstakes, Clixsense, Adbux and several others already do this in one way or another.
Brightspot differentiates itself, though, by:
- Targeting an audience already predisposed to internet subscriptions
- “BrightMatch” technology that searches through the audience and matches the advertiser to the right viewer
- Using questions to ensure customer understanding of the ads and qualifying the ad watching
- Providing a marketplace: a set of content on which a user can, and likely will, spend her earnings. Brightspot connects users to a network of content providers, so that earnings can be transferred directly to online subscriptions
Overall, Brightspot has hit a higher value proposition and a higher tone in branding their service and presenting their company.
I don't know if they are the last word in improving the relationship between advertising and content, but they are a step in the right direction.