By Jon Fortt
August 8, 2007

NBC Universal (GE) is readying a YouTube-like video site that will specialize in commercials and movie trailers, a move that could challenge Google’s (GOOG) dominance in one of the few types of professional content that companies like to see stolen.

According to Variety, the commercial site will launch early next year, and will be called Didja.com, a play on the phrase, “Did you see that?” The goal, an NBC official said, is to become a go-to place for ads that people actually want to see. The company hopes to build social networks around the content.

Not mentioned in the Variety article, however, are the many ways an effort like this one could backfire. A site like Didja, built by advertisers for the purpose of promoting their brands, is also a place where a company’s critics can gather and cause headaches. If the site allows users to embed video clips in their own Web sites a-la-YouTube, it could be even easier for a company’s critics to turn its own creative material against it. If the site doesn’t allow embedded video, the lack of features might prevent it from mounting a convincing challenge to YouTube.

Should the site succeed, however, it could pose problems for Yahoo Video (YHOO), Microsoft’s (MSFT) MSN Video, and other tech players who are trying to build up content sites and use them to sell advertising. It’s not the only assault that traditional media players are mounting on YouTube; NBC Universal and News Corp. (NWS) are preparing to unveil a viral video site, tentatively dubbed “New Co.”, in the coming months.

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