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Online humor is a serious business

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TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Four years ago, an upstart online media company called JibJab dominated the Internet with its cheeky satire of the Bush-Kerry election. JibJab unveiled its newest parody on The Tonight Show last night.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler looks at the very serious business model behind the joke.


[JibJab Video]: There's war, recession and bad mortgage loans // And our legacy needs saving.

Jeff Tyler: With apologies to Bob Dylan, the clever folks at JibJab can make you laugh. But can animated online political satire make money?

Greg Spiridellis is the company's co-founder.

Greg Spiridellis: The real focus for us with these big election video tent poles is to get our brand out there and also to make people aware of the other premium services that we offer.

For $14 a year, customers can cut and paste their own digital photos into electronic cards and JibJab videos.

The competition is more Hallmark than Hollywood, though Spiridellis says he was tempted when a big studio offered a film deal.

Spiridellis: Movies are great, but the movie industry will always be there. Now is the moment in time to really build something great on the web.

As it builds its own media brand, JibJab continues to rely on revenue from partnerships with established Internet giants like Yahoo.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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