As the traditional TV advertising market deteriorates, big advertisers are scrambling to find new ways of connecting with consumers and promoting their brands. Not surprisingly, since there's so much hype surrounding online video, many big companies are looking to go down that route. But at the moment, there's no obvious way to market in this space. Strategies include producing viral web clips, soliciting user-generated commercials, or simply sponsoring TV content that gets distributed online. Now some are looking to take a different approach; starting early next year, Budweiser will launch its own web video site at Bud.tv. There they will offer a range of programming from sports shows, fashion, humor, and commercials made by Bud drinkers -- all targeted at Bud's core young male demographic. Of course, the concept isn't really new. Large brands have been developing and sponsoring content for a long time. And predictably, others are charging that the move represents a cheapening and commercialization of culture, which is absurd since entertainment and advertising have always gone together. As with any other content offering, the only real measure of success is whether people watch it, which will depend on it being good and well suited to the format. If it's not good, the fact that it's online video, or that it's targeted to a specific niche, will be completely meaningless.
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