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Jibjab Co-founders: Advertising Doesn’t Work

Jibjab co-founders and brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis are pulling no punches in an interview that NewTeeVee reader and CinemaTech blogger Scott Kirsner was kind enough to pass on to us. Asked if advertising works for his industry, Gregg responds: “To support a high-quality produced product at scale — no way. Absolutely no way.” He admits that advertising might work great as part of a larger strategy if you already have your production costs covered, adding: “If someone is saying: I want to do webisodes, I want to produce a series of two-minute comedy shorts and I want to make a lot of money with advertising, I’d say: ‘You’re probably not, but good luck.'”

Creating Engaging Content for the Web: JibJab Media from Scott Kirsner on Vimeo.

Jibjab has been monetizing its content through a mix of subscriptions, digital download sales, ads and partnerships with brands like OfficeMax, for whom the studio has been producing the viral holiday hit Elf Yourself. Jibjab originally inked a number of exclusive distribution deals with  portals like Yahoo (s YHOO) and MSN, but it doesn’t pursue that strategy anymore. “YouTube (s GOOG) put a bullet in that brain,” says Gregg Spiridellis. “There (are) no more exclusive distribution deals in a post-YouTube world.” Now, the duo is quite happy to have its content on as many platforms as possible, including Facebook. “We are happy to be a network as opposed to a destination,” Gregg explains.

The duo reminisced a little bit about the early days of web video, when everyone was still on 56k modems, revealing that animation was at that time really just a means to an end — and even that was oftentimes difficult. “Incredibly frustrating in the early years,” remembers Evan Spiridellis, “knowing that you wanted to make this thing that sings, and you had to strip it back to 300k.” You can check out other videos Scott has been doing on his site.

Related content on GigaOm Pro: Are Sponsored Apps the Key for Traditional Media in Mobile?

7 Responses to “Jibjab Co-founders: Advertising Doesn’t Work”

  1. Technotopia

    “They apparently haven’t heard of Google.”

    You’ll need to explain that remark a little better. Youtube is not profitable yet and even if it was, it would still be completely irrelevant to the example of the guy that wants to make high quality comedic webisodes and monetize them through advertising.

    Even IF the largest corporate aggregator of video content on the internet was profitable, that fact would still mean exactly zilch to everyone else.

    Things are obviously a lot easier when you don’t have to recoup production costs (because you get all your stock for free) like youtube dies. Video producers, on the other hand, DO have to recoup their production costs which is why it’s much harder for them.

    Holding up Google as if it were some golden compass for artists is ridiculous.

  2. The headline of this post led me to believe they’re saying Ads don’t work at all, but that’s really not the case. Advertising is an integral part of most holistic monetization strategies for Online Video — for these guys, for the Network I run, and for most others who are making a buck in this biz.

    -bob donlon
    Adobe TV