Paris Hilton is not someone I’d normally write about but her new channel on YouTube is probably significant in how media figures (be they actors, singers or celebrities) market themselves and their products to an audience. From her point of view its a very smart move – not only will she get a ton of hits but it will be a cost effective way of communicating with her fans an also with the ever expanding base of YouTube users. For those who don’t like her I imagine there will be a lot of Paris Hilton spoofs and goofs (like that popular Shakira “My Hips Don’t Lie” video) but all that is just adding to the Hilton brand.
It is also interesting to note that Fox’s popular TV drama Prison Break is advertising on the banner at the top of the page to tie in with the opening of their second season. My guess is that they paid a significant chunk of change for the honour. But although Paris is a big celebrity, the main thing to note here is how popular and effective You Tube has become. A lot of doubters moan about the quality of the videos, question how they are going to monetise their ever growing traffic, how it’s all just a Web 2.0 phenomenon and “not a real business”. But they have a user base that many “real businesses” would die for and if they play their cards right (admittedly a big “if”) they could reap some spectacular rewards.
For me it is very clear why YouTube has accelerated past other video sites like iFilm and Google Video. It is easier to use, doesn’t have annoying ads, has better features and therefore has got more users and (hey presto!) more content. I used to watch trailers on sites like Apple’s trailers section but I got sick of waiting for high quality QuickTime files to load on a broadband connection. YouTube is just quicker, more convenient and works in places where QuickTime isn’t installed. At the moment it is a huge online library of all sorts of video clips but it could become a serious rival to sites like MySpace if they allowed people to add photos and MP3s to their user profiles alongside the videos. Getting someone like Paris Hilton on board as a user might seem like a gimmick but it may well point to a more interesting trend.
Instead of big film or TV stars promoting their latest projects on TV chat shows, they could setup a YouTube profile and communicate directly with their fans like Peter Jackson did during the filming of King Kong. From a filmmaker’s point of view, you would be getting access to a bigger audience and from a film studios perspective you could gauge reactions and views in a way that you simply couldn’t with more traditional media outlets. For more independent, word of mouth films, the benefits are plain to see. In fact, it could impact the film and TV industry in the same way MySpace has affected the music industry. So, for now, the Paris Hilton YouTube channel might just be an ad for her latest album, but it could also signify the beginning of something a lot bigger in how music, films and TV shows promote themselves in the future.
> Paris Hilton at YouTube
> Techcrunch on whether Paris can boost YouTube
> The Times on the new developments at You Tube
> Reuters with a report on YouTube’s “brand advertising”
> CNET with a more tech-savvy take on the Paris at YouTube
> Peter Jackson’s production diaries for King Kong
See Paris greet her fans here: