Meebo will announce tomorrow that they have partnered with VideoEgg to offer Meebo platform participants a 50/50 revenue split from the high-profile video and overlay ad network. While other platforms take a hands-off approach to partner advertising, Meebo is delivering it themselves. I've always wondered just how Meebo would be financially viable. Ads inside or around text chat have not seemed promising, but tonight the whole plan is coming together.In a move further differentiating themselves from countless other platform plays, web-IM service
A Closed Platform
Unlike most other platforms in the news these days, the Meebo Platform is a closed one. More than 300 companies have registered to build applications but only 39 have been accepted into the program to date. Most are multiperson gaming apps, the rest video and voice chat apps. Several more will be announced tomorrow. You cannot zombie-poke someone on the Meebo platform, though, no matter how much you might want to. Gigaom covered the platform launch well. Companies chosen to participate in the Platform work closely with Meebo to assure high-quality integration of their applications, the company says. Now, participating services and Meebo will split VideoEgg revenues.
Meebo is the leading web IM service, claiming a total of 6.5 million unique users logging in monthly. It's a very mainstream audience, 75% of Meebo users use IE and almost none of them log in to multiple IM accounts at once - though I've always presumed that was the point of Meebo. CEO Seth Sternberg told me today that literally no one among their users had ever asked for OpenID support.
None the less, Sternberg is a big advocate for IM protocol interoperability as the basis for further innovation. Meebo is positioning itself, through its platform, to be one of the leading innovators in the live-interaction space on the web. Sternberg believes that all kinds of activities will go on online accompanied by live interaction - from gameplay to shopping to search. I'm inclined to agree with his assessment. While in the early days of the company the vast majority of use was at home or school, as a substitute for desktop IM clients, Sternberg says Meebo use at home is increasing quickly as the company's products roll out into other online experiences beyond simple one to one chat.
Finally, Things are Making Sense
The Meebo Platform is the third step in Sternberg's vision for the company, after building a basic web IM service and then integrating that service into other sites through tools like MeeboMe and MeeboRooms. That the Platform is bringing significantly increased richness to the Meebo experience is clear, and it also makes tonight's advertising announcement more viable that it every would have been otherwise. Ads in chat aren't a tenable business plan. Ads in live video and multiplayer games, inside chat, are.