Google: Living on Video

Here at the Fool we've called Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) just about every name in the book. First, it was a search engine. Then it became an aggregator, whatever that means. Not long ago we wondered if it was a portal. And now, this morning, I've got a new moniker to offer: digital landlord.

Yep, that's right; Google is the would-be Trump of the digital world, snapping up property left and right in the hope of making its site the digital equivalent of Rodeo Drive for advertisers. The difference, of course, is that Google can do no better than time-share any of its so-called properties, because exclusivity is a big no-no in the world of the Web.

As if that even mattered. Google is building a remarkable business out of efficiently bringing far-flung Web content to users in one place. That's soon to include video clips, according to The program appears to further the work begun in April, when Google launched a video-upload program offering clips through the company's searchable archives.

Ultimately, reports, Google hopes to offer a premium service for accessing streaming video, such as movie trailers. That, in turn, would greatly expand the search king's available real estate for digital come-ons. But that's long-term. The short-term would include more homey pieces such as "Star Wars" spoofs.

The project also follows the typical Google pattern of improving on what others have done. In this case: Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) and AOL. Both already have deals with Reuters for searching video. Not that a comparison between all the services will matter. At the risk of sounding too '90s, this move is all about the eyeballs. Getting more of them expands the opportunity to sell billboards along the so-called information superhighway.

The timing certainly couldn't be better: Researcher Zenith Optimedia says that global TV ad spending -- recently estimated at more than $410 billion -- will begin to decline in 2007 after 25 years of growth. Zenith predicts spending will shift to the Web, where Google and Yahoo!'s Overture unit have proved targeted ads work. So let's just call this skunkworks project what it really is: another attempt to prepare for the day Madison Avenue finally comes calling. Talk about living on video.

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Fool contributorTim Beyersis old enough to remember Trans X's hit Living On Video. He digs that groovy techno-pop sound. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile, which ishere. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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