Watch ads, get your bills paid

How to get young men to watch ads? Offer to pay their bills.

By Lindsay Blakely, Business 2.0 Magazine

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Thanks to a tiny company called BrightSpot Media, movie rental giant Blockbuster (Charts, Fortune 500) could have a powerful new weapon in its war with rival Netflix: free rentals.

When the ink dries on a pending deal, Blockbuster customers could get DVDs in the mail for free -- if they go to the BrightSpot website each month, watch ads for about 20 minutes, and answer questions about them.

Arizona-based BrightSpot started in October, but its business model -- offer to offset subscription fees for consumers if they view its video ads -- has already attracted big-league partners like the NBA, Major League Baseball, and GameFly.

By helping to provide free online sports broadcasts and videogames, BrightSpot showed advertisers it could reach the coveted 25-to 34-year-old male demographic. Ford (Charts, Fortune 500), NBC Universal (Charts, Fortune 500), and US Airways (Charts, Fortune 500) are among the 30 major advertisers already testing it out.

"The fit between message and audience has to be really tight," warns John Deighton, a Harvard business professor who researches digital and interactive marketing. So BrightSpot asks users about their incomes, locations, and what kinds of ads they'd like to see, which provides a wealth of juicy demographic details.

Says BrightSpot CEO Aaron Martens, "We have more data than advertisers know what to do with."

THE BRIGHTSPOT FORMULA:

30 BRIGHTSPOT ADS = FREE MONTH OF ACCESS TO MLB.TV

40 BRIGHTSPOT ADS = FREE MONTH OF NBA GAMES VIA TV AND WEB

Note: Based on a 50-cent per-ad average. Top of page

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.