Five months after Google announced that it would acquire video-sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion, the Internet search giant has finally offered a glimpse of how it plans to distinguish the popular site from its own Google Video.
In a post on its corporate blog ( googleblog.blogspot.com), VP of Product Management Salar Kamangar wrote that "Google Video and YouTube will continue to play to their respective strengths." While YouTube will continue to be "a leading content destination," Google Video—previously a limited collection of Google-hosted clips—will evolve into a search engine for video content "irrespective of where it may be hosted."
To that end, Google Video search results now include YouTube-hosted video clips.
Google also took another step in its effort to monetize video on the Web, announcing an expanded test of its AdSense video distribution. The program builds on the company's successful advertising system by allowing content publishers to display video spots from relevant advertisers, such as Warner Music Group.
Given Google's ambition to be the leading index of the world's information, the new direction for Google Video seems overdue. Rival search company Yahoo! launched its Internet video search last June, and sites like AOL Video, blinkx.com and dabble.com have also joined the fray.
Formidable as Google's text-search capabilities may be, it remains to be seen how the company will negotiate variables like format, language and scalability that make searching for video on the Web so difficult.
By preserving YouTube as a separate content vault and aligning Google Video with its core search services, Google may simply be insulating itself—and its brand—should its expensive acquisition turn out to be a bust.
"It is still really too early to really know what is going to take place with this," says Dan Rayburn, executive VP of online-industry site StreamingMedia.com. "While organizations like this always seem efficient on paper," he adds, "how the technologies across the board actually get implemented, and integrated is still an open question."
Meanwhile, the copyright ramifications of the YouTube acquisition are beginning to bubble to the surface. Last week, 20th Century Fox served YouTube with a subpoena seeking the identity of a user who uploaded episodes of Fox's 24 and The Simpsons before they were aired on broadcast TV.
This is not the first such subpoena the company has received, nor likely is it the last. But it's a reminder of the risks involved in acquiring a property like YouTube.