Open Source Marketing

My main interest in open source is the way in which it has turned the tables on who has power in the marketplace. OS Software gives a leg up to the small business that’s trying to enter the market. Now open source marketing seems to be the next target of the revolution (which, by the way, will not be televised). A recent article by Hans-Peter Brondmo shows what open source means to marketing:

What if advertising and marketing materials were published with a Creative Commons license, perhaps requiring attribution but otherwise encouraging, rather than prohibiting, derivative works? What if the goal were less to restrict and control the use of images but rather to encourage derivative use? Let’s call it open-source marketing.

Under this model, blogging about a company, product, or service would be encouraged by said company as a rule, not an exception.

Open-source marketing encourages openness and discussion, facilitates debate and idea sharing. It encourages free downloads of the finished ad and the "source code" — all the storyboards, video clips, raw animation, text copy, sound files, and other components — used to construct the advertisement. Open-source marketing enlists the audience to take a message, an image, or a jingle and "improve" it by creating derivative works. It encourages consumers to not just consume and critique, but to engage, improve, and redistribute improvements if the original doesn’t work or measure up.

This could mean a real shift in the way marketing is done, and may spell decreased revenues for marketing firms. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

The open-source movement has taken the world by storm. Get ready for it to turn its sights on marketing and advertising. Marketing has long promised interactivity, but it’s remained more myth than reality. Maybe we got it wrong. Perhaps what people want isn’t click-and-branch "interactive" marketing. Perhaps what they want is creative freedom and control. Perhaps what they want is open-source marketing.

Next month: how open-source software and cheap creative tools affect marketing by gradually commoditizing high-cost, proprietary approaches and lowering entry barriers.


This commoditizing of services and products is one of the major effects of open source. It forces those with proprietary systems to constantly innovate their upper-end products, because open source is driving the lower-end prices to zero. This is happening in real estate with companies like Property Guys, who offer a DIY real estate service for a few hundred dollars, versus the thousands that you will pay an agent. Once internet usage is ubiquitous, it may be faster to sell your house yourself, without the middle-man. How many other industries will be affected by the changing economics of open source?

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)