And the Web Video Search Winner Is …

May 21, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The last time you searched for a video of cats on skateboards what were the search terms you used?
I bet it wasn’t “cats on skateboard videos.” It was probably just “cats on skateboards.”
Because more than a year after Google purchased the world’s biggest video-sharing site for $1.65 billion, the synergies are finally starting to kick in. And they’re kicking in thanks to a thing known as “universal search.”
Universal search refers to entering a search on Google and then receiving results that span Google’s categories, like news, images, video and web. Google implemented universal search a year ago so that users don’t have to click on the “video” tab to search for videos. Instead, users should be able to find related videos within a standard Google search.
The results suggest this strategy works. Traffic to YouTube coming from Google has risen significantly over last year, according to measurement firm Hitwise. That is likely a result of universal search because universal search allows users to receive more video options during general searches. Videos from AOL, Dailymotion and other sites do appear in those results, but YouTube videos crop up most often.
Of course, YouTube is the No. 1 video site by a huge margin, a happy coincidence Google was no doubt aware of when it adjusted its search algorithm.
YouTube said through a spokesperson that it doesn’t favor its own videos in its search results.
But the big takeaway is this: Google is going to be dominant for video search just as it is for regular search. The other players, like Blinkx and Truveo, probably aren’t going to be meaningful destinations for video search. They can be successful as white-label search providers for other sites, like those of media companies or content providers. But as stand-alone search sites, Google will win.
And that’s not just because of universal search. That’s because we as consumers are becoming trained to view video as the norm on the Web. And that means we are less likely to search specifically for video or to put the word “video” into a search query. Or if we are looking for video, say “Grey’s Anatomy,” we’ll either go to ABC.com, to Google, or to YouTube to find the clips we want.
In fact, a recent study from iProspect on search found that the extent to which users click on video results with a blended search is 17% compared to 10% of users who click on a video search result in a vertical video search (when they search specifically within a video section of a search site.)
And let’s not forget that Google keeps getting stronger in search. Hitwise just reported that Google received nearly 68% of all U.S. searches in April, up 4% over a year ago.
Editor’s Note: “Daisy’s Digital Diary” is a new TVWeek.com column that explores the intersection of Web video and traditional TV. To check out the Diary, Daisy’s “New Media Minute” video blog, all the news Daisy breaks, as well as her Trial & Error blog and other features, click here.

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