Google announced today that they are adding YouTube videos to searches on Google Video. They also said “Over time, Google Video will become even more comprehensive as it evolves into a service where you can search for the world’s online video content, irrespective of where it may be hosted.” Eventually, I imagine we will see an end to new uploads on Google video, as they turn it into a pure search engine. “Google’s strength — and its history — is grounded in search” they say in the post.
What isn’t clear is that Google will be very good at video search which, like their image search, is based entirely on metadata bolted on to the videos. Their track record in media search is a big snooze so far – they’ve experimented with using human labor to add tags to images, while startups like Riya (through it’s new Like.com product) are actually trying to analyze the images themselves when returning results. Google almost acquired Riya a year ago, but pulled out at the last minute. Today, Google is not the first place I go to search for images. It’s Flickr.
Google is already far behind in video search. AOL, through their Truveo acquisition in January 2006, is the best “big company” product because it tries to contextualize video, adding descriptive data that other search engines can’t find.
There’s a very young startup called CastTV which also does video search, and is a step or two beyond what Truveo had the last time we looked. Like Truveo, CastTV finds video that other search engines can’t locate, and does a very good job of guessing what content is included. The company has “signed a term sheet” for their Series A round of funding and says they have already turned down a number of acquisition offers.
I would not be surprised to see Google take a look at CastTV, which has just a handful of employees, and make a quick acquisition. Or perhaps search is such a core Google pride that they will build something themselves. But whatever they do, I won’t be betting that Google will let AOL have the best of breed video search on the net for long.