By Meghan Keane

August 20, Wired

Viewers may flock to funny videos on the Internet, but for advertisers it's not always a laughing matter. The questionable content that so often accompanies user-generated video can cause problems for brands looking to broaden — not damage — their image. So sensitive is the possible stigma that advertisers are even wary of sites that feature polished, professional videos.

Fast Company takes an anatomy of the business behind comedy videos in its September issue, looking especially at some of the larger ventures that have crashed and burned in the last year.

TBS launched Super Deluxe in January of last year only to lose interest 14 months later. NBC Universal's DotComedy, Time’s Office Pirates, and a joint AOL/HBO venture called This Just In were not long for this world. Sony's Crackle, despite many different approaches and multiple millions of investment, has not turned a profit or generated a consistently high traffic levels.

Even Will Farrell’s vanity project Funny or Die — which partnered with HBO in June — has had trouble maintaining its audience. Its first video, “The Landlord,” went viral with a very impressive 57.8 million views, but a sequel with the same inappropriately-scripted toddler didn't do nearly as well. The site now averages around 1.5 million unique viewers monthly, with the average visitor returning only 1.8 times.

Numbers are a problem, but not the fundamental one. It's understandable that conventional advertisers might be leery of connecting themselves with some of the raunchier items on humor sites — or sharing space with house ads for "The Hillary Duff Sex Tape" like the one the FunnyorDie site currently boasts.

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