Google to Syndicate Video — Content

This is being reported in several places . . . but according to the WSJ (sub. req’d) Google will syndicate and distribute Viacom-produced content (MTV music videos and various shows) to third party sites across its network. The content will be ad-supported:

Under the deal expected to be announced today, Google beginning this month will deliver video clips from programs including “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Laguna Beach” to select Web sites and blogs that belong to its advertising network. Google now uses the network — made up of thousands of Web sites — to place paid-search ads on behalf of a vast array of advertisers.

Google will in effect be syndicating Viacom’s programming to the broader Web, allowing the content to reach a much bigger audience than Viacom’s own Web sites draw. The clips will be embedded with video advertising and the resulting ad revenue will be shared among Viacom, Google and Web sites that run the clips.

Simultaneously, Viacom will sell shows through Google Video. The syndicated content will start out as clips of four minutes or less but could become full-length programming at some point. As the WSJ points out, this is a significant deal if it works out.

It marries content (and related ads) with any/all targeting that Google now offers or develops in the future (local, demographic, dayparting, etc.). And it helps Viacom deal with the problem of reach online.

Offline, TV and other traditional media have enormous reach. But online MTV.com, for example, is just another website and has nothing like the reach of a YouTube or MySpace Video. (Viacom owns iFilm, which is the seventh most popular video destination according to Hitwise.) Here, effectively, the company can get reach across the Internet via the “head” (Google Video) and throughout the tail (the Google distribution network) and offer a pretty strong proposition to advertisers accordingly.

Online video sites such as MySpace, Yahoo! Video, YouTube, AOL Video and others are effectively nascent, on-demand TV “networks.” But aside from a few bellwethers, the Internet is fragmented, disaggregated and very much about the so-called “tail.” This new Google content syndication proposition addresses that fundamental challenge by pushing content out to the four corners of the Internet (at least to the extent that sites are part of Google’s network).

This development marries Google Video’s recent trial with ad-supported premium content with Google’s “Click to Play” advertising (the Viacom content will motivate the click that will show the ad). How this gets tied into AdSense/AdWords isn’t yet clear but it’s probably the same rules/terms for “Click to Play” ads.

I had said previously that Google’s Click to Play ads were its first step into TV advertising. Here’s an evolution of that into something quite interesting. We’ll see if it “takes.”

Right now, videos that appear on YouTube can be “syndicated,” because it’s easy to post them to your site or blog. But this operates on a different level because the content will be pushed to hundreds, even thousands of known publishers. (There’s an opt-in from a “publisher” perspective I would imagine.) If there’s even a hint of success here we’ll see more such deals and a rapid expansion of the program.

It will be fascinating to watch – so to speak.

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There’s probably a discussion of “video-click fraud” but I haven’t had any coffee yet and so let’s leave that for later.

Here’s more on the deal from the NY Times (reg. req’d).


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