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Listen Up!

Watts is about to let you in on the future of advertising.

This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I was traveling to Seattle and had arranged for a car service to pick me up at the airport. When the driver didn't show, I called the service to see what the delay was. I didn't expect what happened next. I picked up the phone and put it to my ear. From the other end of the line, I heard a voice-synthesized operator intone: "If you're willing to listen to a 30-second commercial, this call is free. Push '1' to pay for the call or '2' to hear the advertisement."

It dawned on me: I was being paid to hear advertising! And I realized this was the future. Many companies are already building business models based on paying people to hear advertising. Incen-tivizing is being done via rebates and discounts, allowing consumers to keep the money in their pockets. Expect to see more of this.

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