IBM Takes the Long Road in Joost Push

NEW YORK With Joost, Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis want to marry the rich video experience of TV with the interactivity of the Web. For most of its launch advertisers that translates into more 30-second TV spots. But some are using the platform to distribute branded entertainment.

IBM and a smattering of brands are using Joost as a platform for long-form content. Garnier Fructis has ads linking to style videos, and Red Bull has a channel on Joost, which has high-quality video with nearly limitless selection powered by peer-to-peer technology.

IBM is running a series of five mini-documentaries showing its technology driving innovation in areas ranging from golf to law enforcement. To get to the docus, users click on program introduction messages before content and graphical overlays on the side of the screen while programs run.

“We wanted to run something that was more entertaining than standard 30-second ads,” said Maria Mandel, executive director of digital innovation at WPP Group’s Ogilvy Interactive, which created the content and brokered the three-month deal for IBM.

IBM is considering a channel for the videos, Mandel added.

The track record of Zennstrom and Friis—eBay bought their first venture, Skype, for $2.6 billion in September 2005—brings great expectations. Joost has content deals with Viacom, CBS, Warner Music Group and a host of niche programmers. Last week, respected Silicon Valley veteran Mike Volpi, a 13-year Cisco vet, joined as CEO.

IBM is targeting its ad invites to programming likely to draw its audience of business decision makers, such as National Geographic and CNN. When Joost gains mass adoption, it plans to add demographic targeting to allow further pinpointing of ad messages.