2008 has had a number of notable milestones in the arena of video search. Here are six landmark events that that have particularly stood out, demonstrating that video search has finally “arrived” as a crucial area for search marketers:
YouTube dominates Universal search. In 2008, it wasn’t easy to find an embedded video search result that wasn’t from YouTube. This year, YouTube videos clearly had the best chance of appearing in Google and Yahoo! search results. YouTube has received 5.4 billion visitors through October 2008. While most of these visits didn’t come from search, it definitely doesn’t hurt that YouTube ranks #1 on Google for keywords like “squirrel sandwich” and “funny skateboarding accidents.” In 2009, look for the engines to include more video results from other sites as publishers get better at optimizing their content and spiders get better at understanding it.
YouTube rolls out a new ad-model. Recently, YouTube internal search results have started to look a little more like Google.com results. Google has used AdWords functionality to allow advertisers to bid on YouTube search terms that trigger ads to appear in the “sponsored video” section of the YouTube search results. For example, an advertiser selling first aid products might benefit from bidding on the “funny skateboarding accidents” phrase. Unlike Google.com, clicking on the ad keeps the user on the YouTube domain, where they see a featured video from the advertiser. This channel could be particularly effective for studios promoting movie trailers, companies bringing a new product to market, and brand advertisers like car manufacturers wanting to showcase products. 2009 will tell if sponsored video becomes the effective YouTube ad model that advertisers have been craving.
TV networks lay the foundation for YouTube partnerships. If you can’t beat them, join them. TV networks are coming to terms with the fact that their web sites just can’t compete with YouTube for eyeballs. While networks like NBC and ABC have gained online video viewership from 2007 to 2008, networks like FOX have lost share. According to Compete, FOX enjoyed an 11.3 percent share in online video viewership in August 2007, but dropped to 3.9 percent in August 2008. The big TV networks haven’t given up on their own sites, but in 2008, some networks have started to embrace YouTube. CBS, in a very resourceful move, recently announced a partnership with YouTube to stream full length episodes of popular shows like “MacGyver.” MGM has also reached an agreement to post movies on YouTube. Between funny skateboarding accidents and full-length episodes of MacGyver, I don’t think I’ll ever leave YouTube.
Hulu moves to its own beat. While CBS and MGM have started to utilize YouTube, NBC Universal and News Corp went in a different direction in 2008 with their own site, Hulu.com. Hulu acquires the rights to distribute videos and has started to gain market share due to the popularity of online episodes of The Office, The Daily Show, and Saturday Night Live. NBC also exclusively housed all Olympic content on their NBC Olympics site this summer. So if you were searching YouTube or Google for Olympic video, you may have missed that Michael Phelps won eight golds.
Another network, Viacom, made progress in 2008 with its $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube. In July, a judge ordered YouTube to hand over all its user data to Viacom. Viacom was seeking the data to prove that infringing material such as clips from The Daily Show were more popular than user generated material of kids wiping out on skateboards. Stay tuned in ’09 to see how this one plays out.
Speech-to-text translation makes progress. Google used the presidential election as a stage to roll out Google Audio Indexing (GAudi). Using speech recognition technology, Google indexed all the words spoken within YouTube political channel videos. Users can now find videos that contain specific keywords, such as “Joe Six Pack,” and navigate directly to the part of the video where the keyword was used. Although speech-to-text translation isn’t perfect, look for Google to expand GAudi to all YouTube videos in 2009. Keep in mind that if this technology continues to progress, videos could rank for keywords spoken within them, not just their metadata.
Mobile video gets on the radar. Watching video of skateboarding accidents on a phone is easier than ever. comScore reported that 6.5 million Americans watched mobile video in August. The majority of this video was user generated content, music videos, and movie trailers. As mobile devices become even easier to use and data plans become cheaper, 2009 could be the year that mobile video takes off.
Online video has made major strides in 2008, largely thanks to universal search. Speech-to-text translation, mobile video, and full movie/TV shows on YouTube are just getting started. 2009 could be the year of the funniest skateboarding accidents you’ve ever seen. Wear a helmet.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.