The $10m YouTube/Hearst experiment

I don’t know about you, but personally, I spent all day yesterday GLUED to
Hearst’s new YouTube video channel, Hello Style!

Hello, new marketing opportunity! Hello, potentially important brand
extension!

Enough of that. Hello Style! is the magazine group’s much-touted attempt
to embrace new media opportunities, reach new consumer segments, and
otherwise catapult its flagship properties Marie Claire, Cosmo, and
Harper’s Bazaar further into the vanguard of the brave new e-world. It’s
also YouTube’s attempt to upgrade its you-do-it-you-upload-it content in
the interests of monetisation. It’s win-win! (Especially because YouTube
also threw in a $10m sweetener for Hearst to help get the shows,
with their relatively high production values, off the ground.)

Will it fly? Is this both the future of magazines and YouTube? It seemed
worth watching to find out.

Except my first sentence was a lie. I would have spent all yesterday glued
to my screen to discover whether it worked, but it turned out that
yesterday, which was the supposed day of launch, launched in fact mostly
teasers, and the shows —Big Girl in a Skinny World, Sexy vs Skanky, VPL
— all start on various different days this week.

Still, certain conclusions can be drawn. The shows look, from what I could
see, like pretty standard combinations of the sorts of backstage videos
currently available on magazine websites everywhere and talk show
segments. In other words, there’s nothing ground breaking here in terms of
visuals or content, which means the make-or-break issue will be whether
the shows drive traffic to the magazines, and vice versa.

And there I have my doubts. The whole appeal of YouTube, it seems to me,
still lies in its non-glossy, “Charlie-bit-my-finger,”
Justin-Bieber-gets-discovered sense of democracy and viewer ownership of
the space — all of which are the direct opposite of the glossy
experience, which is ultimately predicated on the idea of the omnipotent
style judge (the voice of the magazine) and content filter. YouTube was
created to counteract exactly what it is now paying to embrace.

Anyone else see this as a fatal contradiction?