NY Times reports Joost, the Internet television service being developed by the founders of Skype, has lined up several blue-chip advertisers, including United Airlines, Microsoft, Sony Electronics and Unilever, as it prepares for its introduction. While some advertising on Joost will resemble traditional 30-second television spots, others will take advantage of the interactive qualities of the Internet.Instead of interrupting the programming, these ads will appear as the shows are running with a small box called a “hand-raiser.” Viewers who click on the hand-raisers will be sent to an “overlay,” or menu of content created for Purina. “It’s a whole new way to market to people,” Mr. Renshaw said. “You’re combining the best of the rigor of direct marketing with the richness of the Internet and the entertainment of television.”
I see quite a lot of different challenges when it comes to launching an internet television service. It’s unlike the traditional TV network model. Let me tell you why:
- Global Vs Local Viewers: Last week, I downloaded Joost TV beta to my desktop. I am from India and I didn’t find the content really relevant for an Internet TV viewer out of India. The traditional TV model of the past has always been restricted by geographical footprint and hence content was a lot localized. The internet TV model is a lot more global, hence programming content has to be a lot more inclusive. Imagine internet users from China, Korea, Japan and the like. They might not find Joost TV currently engaging and relevant. But, they have access to Joost TV!
- Build-up vs Scalability: The Network TV model builds-up viewers over a period of time by way of subscriptions, signal availability etc. The internet TV model is scalable right from day 1. The launch of Joost TV in the mind of an avid internet consumer is a worldwide launch and not a geography launch. Millions of internet users will want to use it right away if content is engaging and entertaining. Hence, Joost TV will need programming partners across globe right from its inception not just from one or two countries.
- Interruption vs Irrelvant advertising Most advertising in network TV medium are viewed, more recently, as interruption. Since internet TV is a medium with a vast global reach, the advertising can get irrelevant too, for an internet TV viewer in Europe or India, if the content and ads are US based, for example. Hence, marketing departments of companies need to work closely with their country teams so that viewers are served relevant country specific ads. Else, it is advertising dollars down the drain.
- Single format vs Multi–format : Most advertising in network TV are single-format based – 30 sec TV commercials. But in the case of internet TV there is a lot of interactive and contextual multi-format advertising opportunities. For example, the internet TV viewer may be interested in just seeing, knowing more, buying, chatting, seeking references etc. about brands and they can tracked at different stages of such a behaviour. Hence, the traditional model of just time-based selling will have to move out and new monetization opportunities will have to adopted by internet TV folks. Advertisers have to work on multiple format campaigns that will have to be served to viewers in real time.