Web Site Uses Contests to Build Community

Gist.com, the leading online interactive guide to television listings, is running two new promotions to award $100 a month to visitors for the most clever chat room post and for selecting the best streaming video short in a contest called “Screaming Streaming.”

“There is a growing market of shorts on the Internet,” said Wanda Rachel Glinert, executive director of marketing at Gist.com, New York. “But there is no one out there pointing to the best. This promotion does that and also promotes community by accepting user submissions and votes.”

With a focus on programs such as “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” that are targeted to younger viewers who are more Internet-savvy, the chat room promotion concentrates on the 14- to 25-year-old demographic.

Gist makes most of its revue through the syndication of its program guide to Web sites such as Yahoo, Microsoft Network and CNN.com.

“The anchor of our business is to provide interactive television programming guides and targeted advertising to major portals and network Web sites across the Internet. These promotions help extend and solidify that community,” Glinert said.

This also helps separate Gist from its main competitor, TVGuide.com. Gist supplanted TVGuide as the leading TV listings site in May when its 2.44 million unique visitors bested TVGuide's 2.17 million.

“What makes our site unique as compared to our competition — and for us there is only one competitor, and that is TVGuide — is that our site really hones in on reaching out to the user base and responding to them, having a dialogue with our users,” Glinert said. “We do that through our bulletin boards and streaming video which we thought was a natural extension to provide original programming and promotions through existing shorts.”

Users who log on to these guides through any site are asked targeted information. This information provides Gist with a way not only to target ads around the guide but also to create this community by recognizing visitor preferences and location regardless of the site they accessed the guide through.

Gist.com provides original editorial content centered on television, e-mail reminders of favorite programs, as well as allowing visitors to post messages on their favorite TV shows, make personalized program guides and family viewer profiles, which allows families in different areas to synchronize their television viewing.

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