The company is showing ads for its open-source Web browser. I saw Chrome overlay and display ads on a classically viral video, "No Pants Subway Ride 2009." (Snow angels on a New York City sidewalk in your underwear? Does your mother know?)
Chrome ads also are appearing on Facebook's Boggle-like Scramble game.
Both of these venues have plenty of unsold, low-cost inventory, so Google probably isn't spending Super Bowl-level marketing money on them. On the other hand, they promote Chrome chiefly to the more technically plugged-in early adopter crowd who's most likely to already have heard of Chrome. But it's still probably not a bad idea, since many people, even the early-adopter crowd, still haven't tried Chrome or its newer incarnations.
When Google launched Chrome in September the company also promoted the browser on some of the most prized real estate around, its own search home page.
Being able to promote Chrome essentially for free on YouTube illustrates both the power and ambition that Google has built up as it branched out from its search-engine roots. It also shows that the company is getting more hard-nosed about its business, no longer relying just on word of mouth to promote itself.
Chrome ads also indirectly showcase the fact that people can advertise on YouTube. Converting YouTube's popularity into revenue is a top priority at Google, and the company is claiming some progress if not actually big money.
"YouTube is emerging as a key component of our display strategy," said Jonathan Rosenberg, senior vice president of product management, in discussing Google's fourth-quarter earnings last week.
Added Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, "We have introduced three new video formats in the last four to five months...for advertising. Each of them is having some traction. It's fair to say that we've not found a single solution that really drives revenue widely, and we're certainly working on that."