Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Internet Video Ad Model - Solved!

All kinds of smart people are fretting about successful advertising models for video on the Internet. Text ads wrapped around the player, banners on the page, pre-roll, mid-roll, end-roll, et cetera. What's a millionaire-minded entrepreneur or investor to do?
You can relax, I've spotted the answer.
You see, I have this one friend who is quite familiar with Bittorrent and a connoisseur of tracker sites. At any rate, she has been happily collecting all kinds of hard to find music and video through torrents for a while. It's just like buying The Two Towers on DVD 3 days before it opened in U.S. theaters at the Russian Market in Phnom Penh for $3 - only better! So, the other day, my friend downloaded the previous night's Daily Show, and started watching. Every past episode that she had downloaded had been carefully relieved of any advertising. This one was different, a few, but not all of the regularly appearing ads had been carefully left in the video. And it didn't detract from the viewing experience at all - same great show. The particular way in which some ads, and none near the beginning, were included suggested that Comedy Central itself had uploaded the torrent. This is similar to the time-honored record company practice of Kazaa-bombing, where one might easily find a 4 minute track of silence with 2 seconds of song at the beginning, only with this Daily Show torrent, there's no ill-will, and everybody wins! I would be happy to get high-quality torrents with a couple of ads included, and I would be even happier if Comedy Central was able to layer on additional ad-revenue for it.
Tellingly, this understated ad-model of fewer/shorter ads than conventional TV programming is pretty much exactly what Niklas, Janus, Henrik, et al. have implemented with their TV/Internet project, Joost. These are smart guys who are committed to getting the full user experience just right. Incidentally, I have been beta-testing Joost for a good while now, and have a couple of beta-test tokens to give out. If you want one, convince me to give it to you.

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