RealTime IT News

Joost Signs Big Ad Hands

Web video start-up Joost is doing its best to bring TV to the Internet. And now Joost has commercial support for its upcoming video-streaming service.

This week it signed 32 companies as advertising launch partners to support its collection of content produced by media conglomerates such as Viacom, Toronto-based JumpTV and CBS. But in its formulation of "Web TV" is Joost too much TV and not enough Web?

Featuring content contributed by corporations, not users, and supporting it with multi-national brand advertisers is not how YouTube did it.

If the best way to gauge Joost's prospects are its popularity with advertising agencies and major brands, however, the Joost news indicates that it is so far, so good for the company whose founders are also responsible for Skype.

Global advertisers in the announcement include blue-chippers, such as the Coca-Cola Company, HP, Intel and Nike. United States advertisers include heavies, such as Microsoft, Proctor & Gamble, Sony and Lionsgate. In Europe, among others, IBM, Nokia and Virgin Money signed on with Joost, according to a statement.

Advertising agencies are hyped on Joost, too. The company said it worked with more than 20 media and brand agencies to develop advertising campaigns for their clients.

The types of advertising Joost plans to serve include conventional advertising units, similar to those found on TV and the Internet, such as stills, spots, overlays and widgets. Joost said other types of advertising include branded entertainment and channel sponsorship and promotion.

Joost executive vice president of global advertising David Clark said agencies and big brands are buying in because Joost offers "an advertising platform that is similar to TV, with high-quality programming; and we're providing unparalleled user statistics and insights, as well as an unmatched level of interactivity, targetability and measurability."

But while advertisers are obviously pleased with what Joost has to offer, some speculate that viewers will not be.

YouTube is the Internet's most popular video destination, and it boasts the user-generated and user-controlled content that Joost's peer-to-peer platform plans to avoid.

Advertisers may be more comfortable knowing Joost has this kind of control over the content streaming from its platform, but Forrester Research analyst Brian Haven said users often have a better idea about what they want to watch than do media conglomerates.

Reviewing the content Viacom will contribute to Joost, Haven said he was disappointed to see that neither Comedy Central's Daily Show or Colbert Report made the list. "What is it that the big media companies don't get?"

He said the answer might be that Viacom wants to push new content while maintaining tight control over its biggest hits. And that's not going to cut it, Haven said.

"If they don't even begin to demonstrate that they understand what the actual consumer behavior and need is and fulfill that goal, they can spend as many billions of dollars as they want and they'll just get a handful of people. They're not going to build another YouTube."

But Joost might not want to be another YouTube.

Though YouTube remains the most popular video destination on the Internet, it's owner, Google, is currently facing a lawsuit from Viacom. The studio is seeking $1 billion over accusations that Google has avoided proactive steps to keep Viacom's copyrighted material off the video-sharing platform.

If giving users control costs $1 billion -- or even the $100 million sources familiar with the matter say Google is prepared to spend defending itself -- Joost might be happy with a few less viewers.

What's more, while Google says it is content to do without copyrighted videos and happy to sell advertising around user-generated videos posted to YouTube, companies such as AOL Time Warner and Yahoo do not disguise their desire to attract the same type of blue-chip brand advertisers Joost announced yesterday.

Publishers covet brand advertisers because the agencies they employ have not done their job until they spend all of their client's money. Thus, brand advertisers buy a lot of advertising inventory at predictable intervals.

It's hard to argue, though, with the success Google is enjoying with its own advertising revenue models.

Joost's video-streaming service remains in limited beta and will launch later this year.