"It's a great deal for Google in that they now have the power of a network that can act promotionally, which is something they lacked," said Ian Schafer, chief executive of Deep Focus, an ad agency that has promoted movies on YouTube. "No one is able to monetize traffic like Google has."
But Li, the Forrester analyst, said Google needed to tread carefully and not try to turn the site into a moneymaker by filling it with ads. Google has always shown restraint with its highly targeted search ads, she said.
Although some of the copyrighted material makes some advertisers nervous, they're intrigued by the enthusiasm of YouTube's members. Advertisers are uploading their own videos so YouTubers can share and respond to what essentially are commercials. The company in August began letting advertisers create "channels" filled with clips they produce themselves, and then in turn sell sponsorships to other advertisers. For example, Fox Broadcasting's "Prison Break" TV series sponsored a channel devoted to Paris Hilton's new album.
But like other popular videos, the ads have become fodder for community satire.
Lisa Nova, a budding filmmaker from Hollywood who edits film and does "corporate annoying stuff [that] isn't fun," posts her sketch comedy on YouTube in her spare time. She's parodied videos from Diddy and LonelyGirl15.
In her skit, Nova satirizes the Diddy TV launch at Burger King by forging a mock partnership with the local fruit stand. "Me and the fruit stand have gotten together to buy my own channel on YouTube, even though they're free. Just 'cause we're that smart," quips Nova. "When you put two nobodies together, like Lisa Nova and the fruit stand, you've gotta do it big."
The parody tapped into the resentment some in the YouTube community feel about such real-world celebrities as Diddy and Hilton intruding on their community with sponsored channels to promote new albums. The Diddy parody drew more than 2,000 posts.
"I couldn't believe the reaction to him. People were so upset at him. The comments were so angry," Nova said. "It's very much a community. It's interactive and you're expected to participate in it. When P. Diddy or Paris Hilton come because their album is coming out, people feel used."
Chmielewski reported from Los Angeles, Gaither from San Francisco.