Here's how it works: YouTube will feature video ads on its home page that members of the community can vote up or down, rate, comment on and list as their favorites. The ads can also be shared and embedded into a user's own video creations. The strategy is marketing jujitsu, as it pulls consumers into messages by giving them complete control over them.
Appealing to both sides
"Consumers are increasingly programming their own entertainment and content experiences," said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube. "Our vision is to build a new advertising platform that both the community and advertisers will embrace."
As potentially risky as that proposition is to advertisers, YouTube's popularity is too great to ignore. Therefore, Warner Bros. Records, Weinstein Co. and Fox Broadcasting Co. have all signed on to promote upcoming albums, movies and TV shows.
Weinstein Co., in a campaign created by interactive agency Deep Focus, launched the first participatory video-ad promotion 10 days ago for its horror film "Pulse." (As of yesterday, the video had been viewed 904,898 times, with 838 comments.)
Paris Hilton Channel
Another component of YouTube's new ad strategy involves brand channels -- YouTube pages created and updated by marketers. Warner Bros. Records is using that concept to promote heiress Paris Hilton's debut album, "Paris," which released globally today. The Paris Hilton Channel is sponsored by the second season of Fox's "Prison Break."
Until now, YouTube has been experimenting with standard banner advertising, contest promotions and Google and Yahoo text-based ads. The revenue generated by these efforts is unknown, but it's unlikely YouTube brought in enough ad dollars to pay for the site's monthly bandwidth costs -- estimated between $400,000 and $1 million.
Mr. Hurley said the programs announced today are just the beginning of YouTube's efforts to realize its full market potential. "Advertisers now have a highly targeted opportunity for aligning their brands alongside the entertainment experience people are enjoying on YouTube," he said.