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Back when I was living in Silicon Valley for 12 years, it wasn’t unfamiliar to see every single billboard on 101 emblazoned with a message about some kind of obscure technology that most people in the country wouldn’t understand but that would sometimes leave the techies driving along the freeway nodding in agreement or even chuckling. My favorites may have been the IBM DB2 ads on billboards within sight of Oracle’s headquarters. But I digress.

When I moved back to a place that did not have a technology-centric culture, I didn’t see any of that anymore. Until today. Actually it was a radio ad. Now I didn’t hear the whole thing, but this was a radio ad on a ’90s music radio station talking about data centers and virtualization and how IBM could help with these things. Except I wonder, just who this ad was going after? IT managers who have forfeited control over their budgets to CFOs? Thirty-something CFOs? Office managers? Leaders of startups?

What percentage of the listeners to that radio station understand the concept of virtualization or are in a position to make or influence technology decisions? I’m just not sure that, in this market that is more known for its historical sites and cheese steaks than for emerging technology, broadcasting such a message is the right approach. Of course, maybe they got a deal on the ad. Or maybe IBM knows something I don’t. Maybe this is a new strategy, designed to hit take advantage of the beginning of a slow economic recovery. Whatever it is, I hope they are right, and I hope it works.

For more on explaining virtualization to ordinary people, click here. Or submit your own suggestions in the comments below.