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YouTube Gets Paris Lift

Being an Internet phenomenon is one thing. Making money is another.

YouTube, the enormously successful amateur video site, has no problem bringing in the eyeballs, delivering more than 100 million video views a day.

But bringing advertisers to those viewers, however, is an altogether different challenge. And that's where the redoubtable Paris Hilton comes in.

The site brings in ad dollars with banner ads, promotions and sponsorships, but major advertisers have been reluctant to drop the big bucks, because they have not been able to control the content of the videos.

Case in point: Tuesday morning, a YouTube member uploaded a pornographic video to the site. While the YouTube staff killed the video within two hours, it's the sort of thing that makes advertisers apprehensive.

YouTube hopes to begin changing all that with Hilton.

Combined with Fox Broadcasting, it might be a YouTube video marriage made in heaven.

The slinky pop star and reality television mainstay is the first performer to be featured in YouTube's new brand channel, which debuted Tuesday morning.

"Our vision is to build a new advertising platform that both the community and advertisers will embrace," Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube, said in a statement.

"This new medium requires finding a balance between traditional online advertising and new creative approaches that engage consumers in an active way."

YouTube's new approach involves creating brand channel partners who will populate the channel with video content that has a look and feel that is consistent with its brand imagery.

The privately held company's first brand channel partner is Warner Bros., Hilton's music label.

Warner Bros., in turn, sold sponsorship of Hilton's new music video on the homepage of YouTube to Fox Broadcasting's Prison Break television series, which premiered Monday night.

One new CD, one new music video and one television show all promoted in one package targeted at YouTube's youthful market.

Uploaded at midnight, more than 150,000 YouTubers had viewed the video as of midday.

"We're seeing Paris' video climb to the most viewed, most discussed and favored lists driving its viral appeal," Jennifer Nielsen, YouTube's marketing manager, wrote in an e-mail to internetnews.com.

Which is exactly what Hurley has in mind to lure advertisers.

"This new medium requires finding a balance between traditional online advertising and new creative approaches that engage consumers in an active way," Hurley said.

"Advertisers now have a highly targeted opportunity for aligning their brands alongside the entertainment experience people are enjoying on YouTube."

David Card, a vice president and senior analyst with JupiterKagan, said the idea has both merits and drawbacks.

"It's a good idea. Some [advertisers] will be comfortable with it and some will not," Card said.

"Getting some sort of reach is another matter, though. It's [YouTube] got a lot of audience, but rather fragmented."

Card added that some advertisers would be concerned over losing control over where their material appears since users will link the ads to other sites and the material will be widely dispersed throughout the Internet.

YouTube plans to combine its new brand channel scheme with its new participatory video ads (PVA), a user-initiated advertisement that features the standard YouTube tools: Consumers can rate, share, comment and embed content they find interesting.

"Rather than interrupt a consumer's experience, we have created a model which encourages engagement and participation," a YouTube statement claims.

According to YouTube, Hilton created a special YouTube introduction of her new music video using YouTube's PVA. The video itself is widely available on many sites.

The introduction certainly has a YouTube look and feel as a badly lighted Hilton sits in a chair and tells viewers how exciting it all is.

"YouTube is the hottest community on the Web and that's where I want to be…it's hot, join the experience," Hilton coos in the video claiming a prominent position on YouTube's opening page.

YouTube hopes Hilton and other others will at least warm up advertisers to their pages.

"Consumers are increasingly programming their own entertainment and content experiences," Hurley said.

"We believe it is important to embrace this change and have developed new advertising strategies that will help marketers more effectively connect with consumers."