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RealTime IT News

Cingular to Sponsor YouTube Battle

Cingular Wireless is tuning into the hot community video site YouTube by sponsoring its "battle of the bands" competition.

In YouTube Underground, a promotion running Oct. 2 through Oct. 18, members of the online video-sharing site vote on videos submitted by independent musicians.

Cingular said its sponsorship is a natural extension of its efforts to attract subscribers, "demonstrating our unique approach to mobilizing the music experience for our customers," John Burbank, vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

YouTube, founded in 2005, leads MySpace, Google and Yahoo in the user-generated video space, according to Hitwise. More than 100 million videos are viewed by its 13 million daily users.

The four winning bands will appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" in November.

The winners will also receive airtime on Sirius Satellite Radio and could have their music included in an upcoming movie or television show, according to a statement.

It has been a busy week for the video company.

Monday, Warner Music Group said it would distribute its library of music videos via YouTube.

Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled Soapbox, a YouTube wannabe more interested in building loyalty to MSN than attracting advertising dollars.

However, YouTube's recent drive to build an advertiser-supported service combined with advertisers' rush to embrace YouTube's youthful audience doesn't come without risk.

"As an advertiser, you have to know what you are getting yourself into," Mike Goodman, media analyst at the Yankee Group, told internetnews.com.

But to reach the lucrative youth demographic, advertisers will need to refrain from the urge to sanitize or restrain some online content, such as that found at YouTube.

"This is where they [young consumers] are -– get used to it," Goodman said. "If you start censoring, YouTube will die."

Just as advertisers must adapt, YouTube also needs to not overwhelm its users.

"It will lose some of its audience when they consider it part of the establishment," Goodman said.

While there are some potholes to avoid, the analyst thinks the future is bright for YouTube and advertisers.

"We haven't begun to scratch the surface of what might work on YouTube," said Goodman.