YouTube Jumps the Shark

YouTube is about to roll out branded commercial “channels” as one way to bring some revenue to the site. The first one? Paris Hilton.

It’s interesting that they’re bending over backwards to find any business model that doesn’t include advertising within the videos themselves. (YouTube would put itself on very shaky legal ground if it did that, given the sheer volume of copyrighted content on the site). I’m not sure if this latest tactic will work, but there’s something about it that’s just… disturbing.

Mashable has some interesting thoughts on this latest tactic (emphasis mine):

So will Paris Hilton and other stars counteract YouTube’s ludicrous bandwidth expenses? I actually think they might – despite all the anti-hype around YouTube and the recurring question “Where’s the Business Model”, I think it’s pretty clear that YouTube is a powerful branding platform – and not just for stars like Paris Hilton. MySpace has totally changed the nature of advertising – users now make friends with brands (see MySpace Marketing and Dasani’s custom MySpace layouts), and advertising is no longer about pushing content to people when they don’t want it. The Paris Hilton channel is just the start, and I expect to see hundreds more of these things springing up – why shouldn’t every media company have their own YouTube channel and MySpace page?

I think he’s right, and that sends a chill up my spine. As if corporate personhood wasn’t problematic enough for our society, we have a new phenomenon where people are making friends with products and the corporations behind them. Welcome to 21st century consumerism.

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