Google Video is the Future of Google
Last week Google took a step in their new direction by adding a link to Google Video above their main search box, and dropping their link to Froogle. The change in search option choices on the main page of Google and its internal pages is reflective of the search industry as a whole; as the current trend in citizen content production is focusing on multimedia – which complements that of traditional blogging, forum participation, or page creation.
The link change on the Google Search Box was not the only major announcement to come from Google Video, but one of many spanning from monetization of the system, new community building tools, strong partnerships with two of the largest video competitors on the market, and the restructuring of the Google Video interface. The changing of the links is however, opening the gates to the millions of Google users who have not experienced the Google Video system nor possibly even thought of the ability for a search engine to index, categorize and return video in search results. And the results of this grand re-opening of Google Video have been amazing from a traffic standpoint.
Links on the Google Homepage seem to change as often as Mars orbits the Sun and such a change is quite dramatic. If you think about the indexes offered on the Google Homepage, they are essentially the bread and butter of the Mountain View based company; Web, Images, Video, News & Maps. Ironically enough, the News and Images search engines are not yet monetized by the search engine, while Web & Maps (local) bring in the bulk of Google’s internal revenue. They all however, play an important part in Google’s personalization efforts, as News and Web are playgrounds for Google Suggestions & Recommendations.
Unlike the other choices Google lays out on its Homepage and internal search results, Google Video has become its flagship offering which represents what may materialize as the future of Google when it comes to 2.0 Style Web Community, Multimedia Advertising, Behavioral Targeting beyond search, and Google’s direction beyond our mobiles, laptops and PC’s; and into our TiVo’s, Cable Channels, Satellite & Traditional Radio, and Friendship Networks.
Before diving into the internal details of the Google Video System, let us take a look at the impact which adding Google Video as a testing and ready for primetime system has brought about.
According to Bill Tancer of Hitwise Competitive Intelligence, Google Video instantly became the 5th most trafficked Google Channel in the system while traffic from the Google Homepage ‘surged from 50% to 70% in a single day.’
Replacing Froogle on the preferred Google Channel link list, Google Video visits dwarfed those recently enjoyed by the Google Froogle shopping portal. Which leads to the end result of Google Video being more branded and more important to the online lives of Google users than Froogle. Additionally, users may be accustomed to the serving of Froogle results embedded within traditional Google web results – and not necessarily have been attracted to the Froogle link. Add the hotness of Video uploading & sharing into the equation, and the result resembles this chart provided by Mr. Tancer at Hitwise:
Google Video & Social Search
The buildup to the mass organic marketing of Google Video via this homepage link has been quite spectacular over the past few weeks. Google has obviously borrowed the key components of their main competitor in the video upload & sharing space; YouTube. Like YouTube, Google Video has Flickrized their index, with tagging, commenting and other blogging influenced attributes to the system. Google Video has become Google’s testing ground for social search, a direction Google’s main competition at Yahoo has committed the entire future of the company too.
Here is Michael’s comparison of the two. Notice how the newer Google Video format (at the bottom) resembles YouTube in more ways than one:
Building to the irony is that although Yahoo has turned around their search technology, travel & finance channels, local, photo uploading & sharing, and web community services with the development or acquisitions of del.icio.us, Flickr, Yahoo MyWeb, and Yahoo Answers – Google has developed a top of the line 2.0 offering in its Video channel; which is the one channel still underdeveloped (yet growing) within Yahoo. And let us also be reminded that Google Video has only been around in its current form for a bit more than one year.
Google Video and Community Building
Google’s community transition from Google Groups, to Blogger, to Orkut, to Google Video has been a long and difficult path. In my own opinion, Google Groups has never really become much more of a spruced up version of Deja.com mixed in with a bit of Yahoo Groups. Sure, Google Groups has a devout and active following, but it has never really become a tool which has been earmarked for everyday usage by the masses – in such a way that Google Web Search has cornered the market.
Enter Google’s acquisition of Blogger, which transformed the modern Internet as we know it and set eyes upon this strange instant publication tool which lets anyone create their own customized site and using simple backend management, add new content to it whenever they please without the need of programming. Google’s acquisition of Blogger ignited the online informational sharing revolution as well as became the backbone of citizen journalism, publisher self monetization efforts (especially AdSense) and was a logical step in their plans to index the world’s information.
From a community standpoint however, major opinion and thought leaders moved from Blogspot hosted sites and Blogger powered sites to more innovative and dynamic services from WordPress or Typepad and although Google has taken many steps to transform Blogger into a strong community; social networking overshadowed such efforts.
Speaking of social networks, one of the next projects to come out of the Google family was Orkut – a Friendster type network of creating profiles, sharing messages, blogging of information, and the building and rating of friends. Although Orkut never really took off in the United States it was adopted by the vibrant and growing Brazilian online market, with over 80% of its users coming from Brazil, and growing. Orkut has opened up a new and unplanned path for Google in Brazil since Google can monitor the behavior, trends, and networks set up by its Orkut members.
Orkut therefore has opened up the MercoSul (Market Alliance of South America) to Google, which is centered around the Brazilian economy. Of course the personal information collected via Orkut has to have some influence on the efforts of Google to define the intent of the individual user via personalized search algorithms – a key reason for the Google partnership with MySpace (addressed below).
There has never been a better time for Google to finally complete and improve upon their newest community building project in Google Video; not saying that any of their past efforts were failures as they have all worked together to better the company and lifestyles of many as a whole and in their own individual offerings – as well as led to the opening of many Google Accounts; which drive the personalization efforts of the company.
Google Video Advertising & Beyond
In the same excitement that Google AdWords brought to Google Web Search (or Goto.com brought to Web Search as a whole), Google has developed a method of monetization for web video uploading & sharing which my revolutionize this niche market from its roots at Google, YouTube & MySpace and into its branches of television, video, smart houses and perhaps in-flight movies; the sky is the limit.
Earlier this year Google introduced Google Video Ads as part of the AdWords/AdSense family. Google Video Ads were first thought to be focused on the publisher and webmaster community as a new form of revenue via the serving of these videos as an alternative or addition to current Google image and text advertisements in the AdSense system; which Google Video Ads will still be.
But, Google Video Ads have transformed into so much more. With the same behavioral targeting, geotargeting, contextual targeting along with click path and destinational web usage information, Google Video Ads can pinpoint target using Google AdWords technology to users who are the most likely to act upon those advertisements. Consider the system a hybrid between branding and direct response marketing.
As an example;
* Google user is searching daily for Consumer Reviews on Japanese pick up trucks, price range info, Bluebook value of vehicles, and vehicle theft information for a certain area using Google or partnered web tools
* Google can take all of this information into account along with the location of the user and their perceived age, sex and income level
* Google serves a highly targeted video advertisement for a Honda Ridgeline or Nissan Titan dealer in their area with the promotional message centered around vehicle trade-in promotions.
* These incredibly targeted video ads can be shown to the end user via television, Google Video, their video enhanced mobile PDA or cellular phone, or even in their current vehicle’s navigational system which may show video clippings targeted towards that user’s interest when the car is at rest. Imagine being shown an advertisement for a store, dealership or restaurant which is only 500 feet after the red light one is stopped at in city traffic.
* The if the user ignores the video message, Google can serve them a radio message via dMarc or XM Radio to their car… Google Video Ads is part of AdWords which will be integrated into the total lifestyle of the consumer.
Take this advertising form beyond Google Video and into the current partnerships forged between Google & Viacom along with Google & Fox Interactive Media and the end result is the new and dynamic monetization of a 60 year old proven television marketplace which has been on the downfall since the invent of TiVo.
Better yet, where do young people watch music videos now? On their TV’s? Nope; online, on the cell phone, on the iPod or on their gadget of the day. Google will be serving these MTV Video integrated Video ads across multiple platforms, enhancing its offerings as a whole – beyond the MTV deal.
Of course, the flip side of the equation is that in order for Google to target such smart Video advertising, they must integrate user viewing information from their partners into the Google AdWords serving formula; a win-win situation for Google as this information can be used to serve highly personalized advertisements and search results to the end user forever (as Lifestyle Change AI can be used to predict their end user consumer buying and behavior habits if Google’s current partnerships with these very large multi-media companies fade out in three or four years).
Such is the power of the recent MySpace and Viacom (MTV) partnerships for Google. They are benefitting in a revenue sharing model which both Viacom and News Corp will benefit from along with Google since both companies are in need of this innovative Google powered advertising. The next level beyond what revenue these networks will generate from advertising lies in the information shared with Google via the serving of their AdSense contextual and image advertisements along with video.
My friend Bill Slawski brought this up during his presentation on Algorithms at Search Engine Strategies. Bill connected the whitepaper, InterestMap: Harvesting Social Network Profiles for Recommendations, to the latest Google & MySpace partnership.
The abstract of the paper is as follows:
“While most recommender systems continue to gather detailed models of their “users” within their particular application domain, they are, for the most part, oblivious to the larger context of the lives of their users outside of the application. What are they passionate about as individuals, and how do they identify themselves culturally? As recommender systems become more central to people’s lives, we must start modeling the person, rather than the user.
In this paper, we explore how we can build models of people outside of narrow application domains, by capturing the traces they leave on the Web, and inferring their everyday interests from this. In particular, for this work, we harvested 100,000 social network profiles, in which people describe themselves using a rich vocabulary of their passions and interests. By automatically analyzing patterns of correlation between various interests and cultural identities (e.g. “Raver,” “Dog Lover,” “Intellectual”), we built InterestMap, a network-style view of the space of interconnecting interests and identities. Through evaluation and discussion, we suggest that recommendations made in this network space are not only accurate, but also highly visually intelligible – each lone interest contextualized by the larger cultural milieu of the network in which it rests.”
Bill’s example of how this information gathered from Social Networks can be used is if a user:
* Lists their favorite musicians in their MySpace account as John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and Bessie Smith
* They search on Google for “blues”
* Google can now serve personalized search results with all blues music oriented serps.
* If another user is a member of the Brett Hull Fan Club and lists Hockey as a hobby on their profile while living in St. Louis; Google can serve personalized results focused on The Blues Hockey Team.
* Of course, such personalization can be extended to Google Video Advertisements.
Conclusion on Google & Google Video
Given the success and positive anticipation of more Google Video centered partnership announcements felt during the Eric Schmidt conference and press session, along with the energy Google has put into this Google Video project when it seems that all of their other projects seem to lose steam after a few months, my honest opinion is that Google Video is Google’s future and will expand Google beyond its basic search format into a media network beyond what many of us have ever expected.
This article has a lot of my own predictions, which are based upon the presence of Google at the Search Engine Strategies Conference San Jose 2006, people I have discussed this with in the industry, and the recent partnerships Google has been taking part in which reach into the video, television and multimedia arena. I also would not be surprised if one of the future announcements we hear over the next 3 months will be a limited Google Video Ads / YouTube partnership and integration of Google Video Ads into AOL’s Broadband Video Search & Sharing Services. Please feel free to share your thoughts on Google Video and its direction in the comments below, let’s begin a vibrant and intelligent subject on Google’s Video direction.