The news that Universal was planning to lace its YouTube catalog with retroactive product placement — inserting new ads into old videos — stirred up some unpleasant feelings even before we saw it in practice. But now we can see it, and it’s as bad as you’d expect. Rolling Stone has a new interview with Ted Mico of Mirriad, the company responsible for this new technology, and it includes some visuals like the above before-and-after look at Far East Movement’s 2010 “Rocketeer” video. Mico spins the product placement as a way to do away with the ads that often run before YouTube videos: “It works in exactly the same way as you would plan a media campaign for a brand around music videos. But instead of running pre-roll, now you’d buy spots inside the video.” To further drive home the absurd notion that this service is rescuing people from ads, Mico added, “We’re in the business of helping creatives make money out of the things they’ve already made. Technology is allowing people to skip ads in all formats.”
The story quotes Avicii’s manager Ash Pournouri in praise of Universal’s pact with Mirriad, saying it allows for an extra revenue stream to fund creative ventures such as further amping up Avicii’s live show. Billions booking president David T. Viecelli, meanwhile, compared the new practice to prostitution and said it makes him want to throw up. “It’s becoming much more challenging to develop sustainable revenue for an artist,” Viecelli told RS. “But selling out is selling out. Avicii’s manager says that, but how far is it between that and saying, ‘It’s unfortunate that Avicii has to blow guys in the bus station for chump change, but it’s the only way that we can get the light show we want on the next tour.’ That’s a very dangerous, slippery slope.”
Check out some more visual examples of retroactive product placement below (and note that the artists have to approve this, so don’t feel too bad for them).
Avicii – “Lay Me Down”
Aloe Blacc – “The Man”
Darius Rucker – “True Believers”
Far East Movement – “Rocketeer”