Preview: Advertising on Joost
If you haven't heard about Joost yet, it is "pronounced 'juiced' and is an interactive software for distributing TV shows and other forms of video over the Web using peer-to-peer TV technology, created by founders of Skype and Kazaa" (wiki). It streams videos of near-TV quality to a computer, PC or Mac. The streaming is fairly hiccup-free and will become smoother as more people join the network. It looks remarkably well on a TV screen when the TV set is connected to a computer (we tested it with a multimedia projector, a plasma screen and a regular CRT TV); the interface seems to be optimized for the directional buttons of a TV remote control so a closer TV integration could be in the plans (hackers already got Joost to run on Apple TV); and as a whole Joost comes very close to the real lean-back TV experience with its seamless playlists.
Content owners -- Joost has already signed up Viacom and CBS, among others -- should be pretty comfortable with Joost's streaming technology since it's fairly difficult to rip content off Joost unless one uses video and audio capturing software; in short, it's not impossible but is too much trouble. Joost also is not planning to go the YouTube way and allow user uploads, closing another door on potential copywright infringement claims.
With Joost's launch imminent, NY Times published the company's announcement that it had lined up thirty advertisers for the $50K three-months pilot program; a few months ago both Wired and AdAge (subscription required) ran extensive features discussing the new advertising opportunities the new video service would bring. Here are some screenshots to illustrate those articles.
NY Times: "Some advertising on Joost will resemble traditional 30-second television spots." This is one such spot for Wrigley's Eclipse gum showing between two Joost videos.
Joost has a built-in search engine that allows users to find videos by typing in titles, artist's names, or keywords (it seems that Joost relies on file metadata to identify content instead of indexing the audio or video streams themselves). Ad spots are no different: if you are interested in seeing all commercials by Wrigley, they will come up in the search results.
You can build custom channels based on your search results, and if you are so inclined, you can create a channel that would consist exclusively of gum ads. Joost is expected to let uses to share custom channels among themselves, too.
This is the so-called hand-raiser: if you see something you like on the screen -- a commercial or any other video -- you can activate the top area of the screen and a small window will slide down to display more information about whatever it is you are watching. Eventually, advertisers should be able to place all kinds of interactive content in this space, from polls to games to web links. According to NY Times, "Joost users will also be invited to provide information about themselves and their personal interests. That will allow advertisers to steer their ads to individual Joost viewers, avoiding some of the wasted spending that occurs with conventional television, when people with no interest in a certain product sit through the commercials."
One of the most interesting features of Joost is its widgets menu. Already, you can chat with other people who are watching the same channel, or IM friends on your Google Talk contact list, or rate individual videos, or use Joost as an RSS reader. When Joost releases the toolkit for outside widget makers, we will see a lot of branded mini-applications that are already available for Google and Yahoo platforms.