On Friday The New York Times published an interesting article about how YouTube plans to engage brand advertisers. At Red Bricks Media this coverage seems like old news: we've been using YouTube ad products such as promoted videos to promote our clients' videos for years. The article mentions that YouTube selected Lucas Watson, formerly of Procter and Gamble, as its VP of online video global sales. Clearly it is aiming to receive more branding budget in coming years.

Since YouTube isn't yet a destination for professional content, it doesn't receive the kind of big-budget ad spots people need to endure while trying to watch broadcast TV. But a small number of advertisers have discovered that YouTube can indeed be a natural home for professional content, and a new source of brand engagement that you just can't find offline.

For example, The New York Times mentions the advertiser GoPro, which manufactures digital cameras. GoPro has curated clips generated with its devices and promotes them in YouTube. In one particular case, a GoPro user filmed a Ewe tackling an unfortunate mountain biker:

Buck+attack+in+Africa

This strategy is a perfect example of how internet advertising can't force content upon audiences. Online, it's necessary to blend paid and earned advertising for brands to initiate relationships. Some advertisers have already begun to make this interaction happen. Not with contrived user-generated schemes, but with professionally produced video content of their own.

As a former climber I still follow events in alpinism. The video production company Sender Films recently released a clip of Ueli Steck, a Swiss climber who is part of a modern renaissance in athleticism and performance. The video uses contemporary film techniques to display the risk, thrill, solitude and exceptionalism of Ueli's adventure. Shot in an updated National Geographic style, the clip has accumulated over 1.6MM views. A promotion for a full-length film, which is sponsored by endemic advertisers such as The North Face, this video has taken on a life of its own. How could sponsors not have taken advantage of the online views generated in YouTube? The reach they will get for the feature sponsorship is minimal by comparison. All these advertisers needed to do was tastefully insert a logo or identity sequence at the opening of the promotional clip.

Mountain+Climbing

The historical advertising model distracts audiences from their real mission of the moment: watching the game, reality show, or sitcom that happens to be playing. In contrast with the new model unfolding right now, through vehicles such as YouTube, advertisers have the opportunity to start a relationship with audiences based on shared values, causes or interests. The old model scales easily: you can easily buy thousands of impressions in broadcast advertising. But how much do those impressions really matter?

We call on advertisers to look past the kittens, talking dogs, and skateboarding accidents that made YouTube famous years ago. Rather, think of YouTube as a forum in which to connect to markets in ways that weren't previously possible.

Andy Leinicke is Media Director at RBM. He manages all aspects of our Paid Search Practice. Andy is in charge of organizing, developing and overseeing every aspect of a campaign from message and testing strategy to media buying and segmentation. He can be reached at aleinicke@redbricksmedia.com

Read all Andy's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at The Brickwire.

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