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Janet Babin Aug 22, 2006

SCOTT JAGOW: YouTube is one of those Web sites that’s hot, hot, hot right now. People have taken to the idea of sharing their homemade videos with the rest of the world. But as with most of these Internet start-ups, that doesn’t mean YouTube’s making a dime. So, today, it came out with a new concept designed to bring in the money. I’ll give you a hint: It starts with a woman named Paris Hilton. Marketplace’s Janet Babin has more.

JANET BABIN: Paris Hilton’s already as much a brand as a person. And her new YouTube channel plays that brand constantly — all Paris, all the time.

PARIS HILTON, FROM YOUTUBE:“I’ve got my own YouTube channel, and there you can see me in the recording studio recording my music . . . .”

Paris’ sponsor is Fox Networks. You don’t have to watch a video commerical before seeing her. But some sponsored channels might make you sit through a video ad. Even so, Paul Bond with the Hollywood Reporter predicts this new way of advertising will be a hit:

PAUL BOND:“It’s very unobtrusive. You don’t have to watch it, if you don’t want to. It’s not shoved down your throat. You either click on it or you don’t click on it.”

YouTube is the most popular video and movie destination on the Web. And according to Forrester Research, 53 percent of online adults viewed some form of online video in the last month.

But analyst Brian Haven with Forrester Research says, like MySpace, YouTube has had difficulty finding revenue sources. The new brand channels may be a solution if YouTube can get people to watch the ad:

BRIAN HAVEN:“They’re going to actually challenge marketers and say you need to step up here and actually create some content specifically for this channel, specifically for this context.”

But maybe it doesn’t have to be stellar to provoke viewers into watching. At last count, more than 35,000 people had clicked on the Paris video, even though the rating for it stands at two-out-of-five stars.

In New York, I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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