The Bourne Legacy will make its theatrical debut in a few thousand theaters across the United States on Friday, August 10, 2012. And unless you’ve intentionally tried to avoid consuming American mainstream media for the better part of this year, you’ve more likely than not been exposed to several impressions and messages from the film’s multi-million dollar marketing campaign that’s meant to promote Jeremy Renner as the new Matt Damon and increase the popularity of the franchise into at least a few more flicks.

Sometimes those marketing impressions and messages take the form of TV spots or international posters with disproportionate limbs. And sometimes they take the form of an advertisement for The Bourne Legacy trailer before a video of The Bourne Legacy trailer.

In an example of what is either A) YouTube’s incredible ability to hyper-target advertising or B) an algorithmic snafu, I was recently served a TrueView Video Ad before watching this Bourne Legacy Trailer 2 video. Seeing a video advertisement before watching a video on YouTube is not a notable experience. But what was notable about my experience was the video advertisement I watched was The Bourne Legacy Trailer 2 and the video I watched after the advertisement was also The Bourne Legacy Trailer 2. Here’s a screenshot:

I say this could be result of an algorithmic snafu because it obviously seems like a mistake. There’s no reason The Bourne Legacy should advertise to me while I’m watching The Bourne Legacy. I’m already sold. That advertising inventory could be better used by a brand that wants to be associated with The Bourne Legacy and attract my interest, attention, and/or dollars.

But I also say this could be a result of YouTube’s incredible ability to hyper-target advertising because I didn’t skip the TrueView Ad. I watched The Bourne Legacy Trailer 2 as an advertisement all the way through, before I watched The Bourne Legacy Trailer 2 as a piece of content. So, if engagement is one of the metrics by which YouTube assesses the efficacy of its ad targeting capabilities, this advertisment-is-the-same-as-the-content technique shows (at least in this isolated instance) YouTube ads work well.

Maybe the world’s largest online video sharing site is taking a page out of The Bourne Legacy marketing playbook and believes when it comes to the same pieces of video content, there should never be just one.

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