Saturday, April 03, 2010

A New Episode For Google

Inevitably, Google has seen the light and figured out that videos showing disabled people being bullied in a dreadful interface might build audiences, but is useless at providing revenue.

So, it's now entered the sequential video content market. Its purchase of a company formed by a bunch of former employees gives it a few things, the major ones being playlists and video analytics.

Google can use this in a number of ways:
  1. To improve on the dreadful YouTube user experience
  2. To provide more detailed analytics
  3. To build a Hulu competitor
  4. To take on the likes of Brightcove, Oolaya and KIT in the enterprise video management market
Advertisers have largely spurned YouTube due to its poor quality content, its unpredictability and its poor user experience. This is probably going to be the first area addressed by the company that seeks "to do no evil".

But does Google realise that doing content deals makes it liable for regulation by the likes of OFCOM in the the UK and doing sequential media brings it under the aegis of the EU's Audio Visual Directive ? I actually think, probably not.

This is an American company that has little understanding of other markets. It despairs of regulators and tries to ignore them. It hides behind the Digital Millennium Act whilst using it to dismantle whole swathes of online and offline businesses from bookselling to enterprise video management.

Purchasing Episodic brings Google into direct competition with platforms such as Brightcove, as well as initiatives such as HBB and Canvas. More and more, Google needs the businesses it is competing against and that isn't a comfortable place to be in business.

The real challenge is to publishers and ad and media agencies. Google are building sales teams that want their breakfast, lunch and dinner, and most of these agencies are feeding them their futures at the moment unquestioningly. Google has already pretty much destroyed the market for online publishing by taking too much of a cut (see News International's move towards payment for its online newspapers). Will content owners be that stupid again over video ?