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.
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