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YouTube in push to link with advertisers

YouTube, the fast-growing Internet video site, will on Tuesday unveil its most ambitious attempt yet to make money from advertisers by allowing them to promote their brands through customised channels on its site.

YouTube, which has emerged from nowhere to become one of the most visited sites on the Internet over the past 18 months, said Paris Hilton, the celebrity hotel heiress, would spearhead a push to offer brand channels to advertisers who want to promote their products to the YouTube community.

YouTube said Warner Brothers would create the site’s first “brand channel” to promote “Paris”, Ms Hilton’s new music album. The “Paris Hilton Channel” will include a video ad produced by Ms Hilton for her YouTube fans. It will also include advertisements for Fox Broadcasting Company’s television series “Prison Break”.

The move marks the most ambitious attempt yet by YouTube to monetise its huge and rapidly growing audience. Advertisers will be able to customise the look and feel of their channels free of charge if they meet pre-determined spending quotas.

YouTube has already been exploring partnerships with companies like Nike, which have experimented with uploading short advertisements or other video clips to the site for users to view. YouTube already hosts banner ads, promotions and other sponsorships.

It claims that its users view and comment on as many as 100m videos each day - many of them home-made amateur videos uploaded by fellow users.

Chad Hurley, YouTube’s co-founder and chief executive, said he hoped brand channels would help build a new advertising platform that “both the community and advertisers” could embrace.

“This new medium requires finding a balance between traditional online advertising and new creative approaches that engage consumers in an active way,” he said. “Advertisers now have a highly-targeted opportunity for aligning their brands alongside the entertainment experience people are enjoying on YouTube.”

Robin Bechtel, head of new media at Warner Brothers Records, said Paris Hilton and YouTube were natural fit because they were both “pop culture phenomena.”

Mr Hurley said the brand channels were one of several new features YouTube was planning to unveil this year. “Consumers are increasingly programming their own entertainment and content experiences,” he said. “We believe it is important for us to embrace this change and have developed new advertising strategies that will help marketers more effectively connect with consumers.”

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