[Posted by Nate Elliott]
My colleague Sean Corcoran stirred up a bit of controversy recently with his research on sponsored conversations — a.k.a. paying bloggers to discuss your products. (The 20,000-foot view of that research: the practice is here to stay — in fact it's growing — so everyone involved must ensure there's full disclosure, and follow other best practices.) But until recently, I'd only ever heard of sponsored blogging and sponsored twittering. So I was fascinated to hear that fast food chain Carl's Jr. is running a new sponsored YouTube video campaign.
Carl's Jr. — no stranger, of course, to pushing boundaries in online video — recruited YouTube stars and gave them a simple mission: make a video about how you eat hamburgers, and mention the chain's new portobello mushroom burger. They won't say how many video creators they've engaged for the campaign, or how much they're paying each. But they expect the videos to generate a total of more than 10 million views.
Considering how difficult it is to launch a successful viral video campaign, this approach makes a lot of sense: the marketer is guaranteeing lots of reach, and the videos will carry a reasonable level of authenticity and trust. And they appear to be following the best practices that Sean laid out in his report — which might just be enough to keep the critics at bay. I'll be watching to see how this campaign works out for Carl's Jr. — and whether YouTube finds a way to take control of this practice and turn it into a viable revenue stream.
What do you think — how do sponsored YouTube videos compare to sponsored blogging and sponsored twittering? And would you pay YouTube stars to make a video about your product?