Instant Messaging site Meebo is taking steps to monetize its service through partnerships with major media brands, while at the same time sprucing up its service with special sections for video, audio and photo content.
Meebo is now offering Meebo Rooms as sections of its site where users can discuss specific topics, as well as watch videos and other media. And while the company is making it possible for any of its two million registered users to create their own room on a topic, Meebo has also partnered with several media companies to create branded rooms which Meebo promotes on its front page.
The company has signed agreements with blip.tv, Capitol Music Group, CNET Networks, CollegeHumor, Flixster, Popular Mechanics, Jive Records, MTV Networks’ GameTrailers.com, NBC Universal, RockYou, Sugar Publishing, Veoh, Wenner Media’s US TV, and VIBE Magazine; and it has created Rooms where their content can be viewed and discussed by Meebo users.
"We've seen that if we subtly promote those Rooms to users, they check it out," said Martin Green, VP of business for Meebo. "Sometimes they talk about the content. Sometimes they talk to each other inside a room that belongs to Popular Mechanics for example, and they might pull in their buddies."
Meebo is not hosting the videos or images itself, but providing the space for its partners and users to post content from services like YouTube, MySpace Videos, Flickr, Photobucket, and others.
Some of the new partners are keen to use the Meebo Rooms to reach out to a younger demographic that is more accustomed to using IM.
"This is part of our effort to show the younger folks what Popular Mechanics is about and how it is relevant to them," said Angela Diegel, online director for Popular Mechanics. "It's introducing the brand to people who would probably think, 'That's for my dad, or my grandfather used to read that. We wanted to show that here is something for younger readers."
As part of its partnerships with Capitol Music Group, Flixster, Jive Records, Popular Mechanics, Sugar Publishing, and VIBE Magazine, Meebo will also be exporting its IM system to those companies' own sites as a skinnable Meebo Room. Green also said that Meebo will begin testing the use of video advertising on its site, and would spend the next several weeks testing approaches and getting feedback from users and marketers.
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