YouTube ran a video ad for the film "Pulse" on its front page for the first time over a week ago, with a look and feel similar to the user-contributed videos the site is built on.
That ad was followed today by a front page video ad featuring Paris Hilton, in which the celebrity directly addresses the YouTube community and plugs "Paris," her debut album released under Warner Brothers Records. Additionally, a special Paris Hilton channel on the site is sponsored by the Fox series "Prison Break."
The placements are part of a new set of ad products the company has developed to entice marketing partners. These aim to inject ads into the community lifeblood of the site rather than isolate them from it, and come in two flavors: Participatory Video Ads (PVAs) and Brand Channels.
The PVA is a regular video spot but with all the community features enabled, so that YouTube visitors are free to comment, share, embed and "favorite" the video. In the day since it was posted, the Paris Hilton PVA has been viewed nearly 80,000 times and received 415 comments. Its rating, however, is a mere two stars out of five.
"Overproduced," commented one YouTube user. "Catchy tune, nice phrasing, but your [sic] holding back. Maybe that's a good thing for now, but in time I hope your music reveals the real Paris. You have talent in this arena, a talent that's not forced (i.e. K-Fed)."
"Like you will read the comments," accused another. "You're too 'hawt' for YouTube."
The second product, called Brand Channels, is a sponsored placement that allows for "more brand-centric video experiences." Marketers can prominently feature their own branding on a page filled with video content around a particular theme, which can be anything from a recording artist to a sport. YouTube fans can subscribe to the channel to be presented with all videos from that channel on future visits to the site.
The Prison Break-sponsored Paris Hilton channel contains several videos about the making of Paris's album, as well as sponsor videos featuring the show's trailer and interviews with the actors. The Paris Hilton videos are cut together with the sponsor clips, which automatically play when the featured content is through. Banner units promoting the channel appear widely on the site.
YouTube was not immediately available for comment.
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March 19, 2014