TORONTO YouTube is setting up shop in Canada.
The world's most popular video-sharing website has launched a new Canadian version - http://youtube.ca - which went live Monday night. At a press conference yesterday morning, company officials said the new site is designed to promote Canadian-generated content. Videos posted by Canadians will appear in the "featured videos" and "promoted videos" sections of the site.
YouTube is owned by Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine giant Google Inc., which bought the then-fledgling video hosting site one year ago for $1.76-billion (U.S.).
Although Google already had the capacity to sell ads aimed solely at Canadians on YouTube, having a dedicated Canadian YouTube community gives the parent company more options to entice advertisers and more opportunities to deliver targeted advertising.
Advertisers can pay for their ads to run on the Canadian site, the community as a whole or both. YouTube offers advertisers a variety of options, including banner ads on its home page, brand-specific channels and the option of paying to be associated with key words in the site's search function.
The announcement comes as part of a worldwide expansion blitz for YouTube. In June, it launched nine country-specific sites, while Canada's is the fifth to be added in recent days. Already, most of YouTube's content comes from outside the United States, and more than seven hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute.
"We're very excited to bring a local version of YouTube to Canada, and are committed to continuing to improve the YouTube experience for our Canadian users," YouTube chief executive officer and co-founder Chad Hurley said in a statement. "Our goal is to satisfy the unique needs of the local users and to further strengthen Canada's vibrant YouTube community."
The company currently has no YouTube-specific staff in Canada, and Sakina Ariswala, YouTube's international manager, said that for now, Google's Canadian employees would be handling the site.
"As we build it out, we will be looking at hiring people, hopefully," she said.
YouTube believes that by creating country-specific sites, users will have an easier time finding the videos they are looking for. Canadian users uploading videos will be afforded greater exposure on the Canadian site, which will then raise their profile on the international parent site, youtube.com.
"One of the things that our users pointed out was that you can get lost in the YouTube spectrum out there because there is so much content. So this is just a way for us to showcase that user content to an interested user base," Ms. Ariswala said.
Any site that amasses as much content as YouTube eventually needs to break itself up to cater to specific demographics to remain relevant and maintain user interest, said Info-Tech Research Group analyst George Goodall.
"In the history of the Web, pretty much any content play inevitably involves some sort of regionalization aspect to it," he said.
Ms. Ariswala said that while there are no plans now to automatically route Canadian users to the YouTube Canada site when they try to access the international youtube.com address, the company hasn't ruled out that eventuality.
A handful of Canada's most popular YouTube video bloggers, including Tony Huynh, known online as TheWineKone, were on hand for the launch at a hotel in downtown Toronto.
YouTube has been busy signing up corporate content partners in the runup to the launch, signing deals to promote videos from the Canadian Football League, CommandN weekly tech news video show, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).