In the not-too-distant future, today might be remembered as the day that Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL became the next Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). In retrospect, perhaps, it will seem obvious. Of course text search was all the rage back then, but with the number of homes connected to high-speed pipes growing every day, video search was clearly the wave of the future. Pundits will note that AOL was most attuned to the changes and, with great foresight, purchased video search specialist Truveo.

But, then, we're getting way ahead of ourselves-- let's see why this deal could be so important. As the press release announcing the agreement points out, Truveo's search engine uses a proprietary technology that the company calls "visual crawling." This technology automatically scours the Web to find video files and related information, a process that allows Truveo's search engine to deliver results that "cannot be found in any other search engine."

Truveo's stuff is better than that of its competitors, and the company knows it. When the firm launched its search engine, it brashly invited users to compare its search results to those obtained from Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Google. Clearly, AOL also knows that Truveo has something special, since Truveo's search engine went live less than four months ago.

Combine Truveo's search with AOL's other formidable assets, and the online outfit's potential becomes clear. The firm has access to a large video library that it's beginning to roll out on its site. For new content development, AOL can again lean on its parent company. Finally, AOL's admittedly shrinking but still impressive 20 million-member subscriber base can act as evangelists for the company's growing prowess in video search and content. Targeted search, rich content, and a substantial user base -- these strengths will not be lost on advertisers.

Again, though, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Video on the Web is in its infancy, and plenty of alternative models are floating around out there, such as Google's video site, which allows almost anyone to upload and sell video content. One thing that is certain, though, is that AOL, once denigrated as a relic, has returned as a leader.

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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article.