Media Perspective: Media agencies can do worse than post content on YouTube

Last week the Home Office appointed agencies to work on a campaign to crack down on kerb-crawlers in UK cities. Having spoken to a few communications experts about the brief, I can think of more than one way to tackle these perverts.

Maybe I could film these ideas and put them on YouTube. I might even earn more money for this than the appointed agencies following this week's announcement from the YouTube founder Chad Hurley that the online video site is considering handing over a proportion of its ad revenues to users who post content.

There is no detail on this yet, but perhaps the creators of the most popular downloads will stand to benefit from the ads that appear around their brilliant creativity. Though it's unclear how much the likes of "breitbart", who posted the most downloaded clip on YouTube on Monday, would benefit from posting content grabbed from MSNBC.com of Hillary Clinton singing her national anthem.

This development, which may see YouTube replicate the models used by the likes of the video download service Revver or 3's UK mobile service, might scare some who doubt the good intentions of YouTube's owner Google. After all, some already fear it is trying to shut out agencies after the Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt, was reported as saying last year: "The long-term fantasy is we walk up to you and you give us, say, $10 million and we'll completely allocate it for you across different media and ad types."

Now it could also be argued that Google is attempting to introduce a system for users that will tighten its hold on content distribution. A system that Hurley says YouTube has resisted in the past in a bid to "keep it pure".

Yet it seems that agencies and brands aren't just lying down. In the US, Anheuser-Busch is reported to have invested $30 million in Bud TV, a broadband "TV station" that will stream seven channels of entertainment overflowing with Bud product placement and advertising.

And on the agency side, there are signs that some of the big networks are investing even greater levels of resource in content creation. Last week, MindShare hired Simon Willis as its head of programming in the UK, in theory to drive entertainment activity similar to that in the US. There, MindShare's parent Group M has co-produced October Road, a drama series that will air on the ABC network, the model being that it splits ad revenues around the show with the network.

Of course, restrictions on broadcast content in the UK are tighter than in the US, so it will be interesting to see what MindShare can come up with here. With this in mind, activity on sites such as YouTube has to be an alternative. Then it could line its own pockets with Google's ad revenue.

ian.darby@haymarket.com.

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