Kiwis donate computer screen space for desktop ads

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Donate Your Desktop allows companies like Sky TV to run branded wallpaper images on people's computer screens. Photo / Supplied
Donate Your Desktop allows companies like Sky TV to run branded wallpaper images on people's computer screens. Photo / Supplied

Two Auckland brothers are giving New Zealanders the chance to fundraise for charity by donating their computer screens to be used as advertising space.

Stephen and David Hillier's business called Donate Your Desktop enables people to support charities without spending a cent.

About 2500 people have so far downloaded an application which means their desktop background is updated each day with a new branded wallpaper image.

Companies pay to run an ad in the desktop space at a rate of $250 per day and Donate Your Desktop (DYD) gives 75 per cent of that fee to one of 12 partnered charities.

Desktop donors can choose who their money goes to, from among charities such as Starship Foundation, Auckland City Mission, and Oxfam New Zealand.

DYD retains 25 per cent of the fees to sustain and build its business.

The brothers launched their online business in April last year and have so far run advertising campaigns for close to 50 companies, such as Air New Zealand, Sky TV, Huffer and TV3.

Stephen Hillier, who is about to leave a six-year structural engineering career to go full-time with the venture, said the idea was to redirect some of the millions spent on online advertising each year towards charity.

It also meant cash-strapped Kiwis emerging from the economic recession had a passive way of financially supporting a cause, he said.

"It means someone can give to charity with no cost to themselves. Lots of people just don't have the cash to donate money personally."

Hillier, 28, admitted that computer screens, which many people sat in front of all day, were very personal places and so the wallpaper ads needed to look good.

"We're quite strict with our clients. The creative has to be top notch."

He and his 32-year-old brother, who runs a 3D architectural rendering company, recently pitched their concept to a group of family and friends who collectively invested $200,000.

That funding boost meant Stephen could afford to soon go full-time with DYR, committing more seriously to marketing and developing the system.

"Our primary focus is on trying to build the audience up here," he said.

The more people who signed up, the more attractive DYD would be to potential advertisers, he said.

Currently, the DYD application can only be downloaded by New Zealand users because branded desktops are sponsored by local companies advertising to Kiwis.

The brothers are planning to expand to new regions so international users can participate as well.

To watch a YouTube video explaining the Donate Your Desktop concept click here.

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