Joost Unveils Stellar Brand Ad Launch Lineup, Partnership With IPG

Hot Web TV startup Joost yesterday announced an impressive lineup of 32 major brand advertisers for launch, some innovative ad formats, and a year-long partnership with Interpublic Group's Emerging Media Lab.

"From a strategy perspective, we knew we had to be involved as the worlds of broadband and broadcast converge," said Lori Schwartz, senior vice president, director of Emerging Media for Interpublic's Emerging Media Lab.

The year-long IPG relationship guarantees special pricing and first-to-market opportunities for Interpublic's agencies and advertisers, including Microsoft, Intel, Motorola, Sony Electronics, Taco Bell, Unilever's Magnum Ice Cream brand, the U.S. Army, Lionsgate, and two European General Motors units, Opel and Vauxhall.

Similar to an ongoing relationship with TiVo, Interpublic's involvement with Joost rests heavily on research in order to better understand this emerging medium.

"These deals have a big research component so we can separate the value from the hype," said Schwartz. "We're really excited to see how we can leverage Joost's peer-to-peer technology, and how we can target addressable advertising based on user profiles and behavior."

Joost, formerly known as The Venice Project, was founded by the same entrepreneurs--Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis--who brought the world Skype and Kazaa. And unlike video-sharing sites like YouTube, which are dominated by short clips, Joost specializes in long-form, high-quality content provided by the likes of Viacom, Warner Music, National Geographic, and Endemol, the Dutch production company responsible for "Big Brother." It will all be free to consumers.

Other agencies currently working with Joost, according to Brad Elders, Joost's senior vice president of North America sales, include Omnicom's OMD and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, along with Publicis. Other advertisers already on board include Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Nike.

Joost is offering advertisers a range of formats beyond the traditional 30-second spot. Ten-second and 15-second pre-, mid-, and post-roll options are all available, all with interactive capabilities for users to delve deeper into ad messages if they desire.

Another alternative is a roughly 5-second "Brought to You By..." "introstitial," according to Elders. "We're going to be doing a lot of experimenting around our three core principles of targetability, measurability, and interactivity," he said. "There are a lot of unknowns, and we really don't know yet what viewing patterns are going to be like."

In addition, rather than interrupting programming, Joost will run ads alongside content known as "hand-raisers," which users can click for more information either within Joost's platform or on a brand's own Web site.

How much will all this cost advertisers? "We feel like we can demand a premium in the market for these services," said Elders. "We're also offering unprecedented targetability using opt-in user profiles and the information we get from users' viewing habits."

And while Elders would not say just how big a premium Joost is demanding, news reports this week estimated the cost of three-month ad deals at around $50,000.

Interpublic's agencies participating in the Joost deal include MAGNA Global, McCann Erickson, Momentum, MRM Worldwide, Octagon, Universal McCann and Weber Shandwick.

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