Google Video Changes Course

NEW YORK Google said today it would begin shifting the focus of Google Video to a search model as it relies on YouTube as the main repository for video content, both professionally and user produced.

As a first step, Google has begun showing YouTube video results in response to searches on Google Video. The company said Google Video would eventually provide links to video on several sites, acting as a video search engine.

When Google first introduced its video site in April 2005, it was not a search engine for video, but instead followed the community model favored by YouTube by soliciting user submissions. It also struck a flurry of deals to sell videos from partners like CBS, the National Basketball Association and others.

Yet despite the advantage of Google’s distribution platform, Google Video has been far less popular than YouTube. In January, YouTube drew 38 million visitors vs. Google Video’s 20.4 million, per Nielsen//NetRatings. YouTube boasts a much more engaged audience that spent 38 minutes there, opposed to 7 minutes on Google Video.

Google purchased YouTube in October for $1.65 billion. A Google statement said the company anticipated YouTube would eventually host most content from both professional media companies and users. Google Video currently has deals with several media companies as well as collecting user-generated clips.

“We also envision YouTube benefiting from future Google Video innovations, especially those involving video search, monetization and distribution,” the company said.

Google has made its first forays into in-stream video advertising in recent months. This week it said it would begin another test of using its AdSense ad network to distribute content from Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group with advertising.

As a video search engine, Google Video will compete with startups like Blinkx and offerings from Yahoo and AOL.