While doing a recent search on Yahoo Video for my favorite advertisement of all time (the Cadbury Eyebrow Dance done by Glass and a Half Full) I found that they've implemented a Play Here button. As it's interesting, I thought I would share with you. But what is more interesting is what it means to you.It seems to me it's just a monkey see, monkey do scenario. Google does, so Yahoo did…will Bing? Well Bing sort of does it already anyway. You can click on a video and it will show up at the top of the page and play. Not as slick as Yahoo to say the least. Of the three, Yahoo implemented this the best as far as I'm concerned.
But what might concern you is the loss of revenue on your part if it is your video or a video normally on a site where you show ads. You see, there are no ads shown with these videos and there are certainly no display ads associated with them. I imagine that there are no interactive layers, no user engagement and no payments for displaying said videos on the search engines.
Is this a case of content and traffic theft or a really good thing for you? Considering they're all search engines one might argue against content theft. However, are they not, by allowing viewers to watch full videos on their site, essentially taking the content and therefore the traffic, off of your site and revenue out of your pocket?
Here's a scenario: You have an exclusive video, the video goes like gangbusters and the hits start flying in. Then suddenly there's a massive drop off in hits to the website, ads are down and your revenue begins to dry up, yet you're still pushing a massive amount of bandwidth. Where's it all going? To the video search engines! They're allowing people to watch your video without going to your site. They are stripping out call-to-action interactive layers, display ads and everything else and just offering the viewer the video, uninterrupted, in its entirety and free of any ads.
Then, on top of all that, they are turning a profit on ad placement in their video SERP pages. Well isn't that a pile of shit?
Many argue that getting your videos into the search engines is the golden apple of video SEO, but now that they're all allowing the viewers to watch those videos without leaving, might we not say that golden apple is rotten inside? The search engines are the worms that have stolen your gold and stuffed it into their gluttonous bellies, engorged their bottom lines and basically left you, the content creators and publishers, without a troy ounce to your names. Even Blinkx takes you to a Blinkx page when you click a video thumbnail and then, as if adding insult to injury, shows their own banner ads to create some revenue for themselves.
It seems to me that it might be time for a change. Yes, video search is good. It helps viewers find the videos they need (generally I just go to YouTube when I want something because I know it will probably be there and if not then I go somewhere else). But many users are used to using a search engine and will never end up at the true content site. Essentially, they're all lost revenue and page hits to you.
Can you stop it? At this point, it will be a long uphill battle. The industry has clamored for great video search forever. Now we have it, but in the process we've lost the control of our content and it has been handed to the video search engines. No longer do people even need to venture near your site or even away from the search engines as they can just watch everything they need there, costing you advertising revenue, page hits and bandwidth. It just doesn't seem fair.
What's to be done?
You could attempt to sue Yahoo but that seems useless. Perhaps you might do better to attempt to block them from your content. But then that defeats the purpose of the video search.
Of all of the search engines listed, only two are your friends: Google, in that they limit the size of the video to a very small portion of the screen and Blinkx in that they show 20 second previews of some content (infrequently it seems). So you might be able to appeal to them to do that with your content. However, both Bing and Yahoo allow full screen, full length video results viewing straight from their pages now. That means you pay for the bandwidth and they get the ad revenue.
What we need here is a balance of some sort. I really like the 20 second preview approach, full screen or not. There needs to be some limit to the amount of your videos that can be shown on a search engine, or we would all need to begin hardcore video editing and putting all advertisements right into the video files. This seems seriously excessive and limiting. A 20% limit on video playback on search engines seems like a fair compromise. It will give the viewer enough information to know whether or not yours is the video they are looking for.
Another alternative is to have the SERP page auto-forward viewers to the site where the video is from at the end of the playback or to load the page into another window or tab. Far less user-friendly in the long run but a way for you to get your due. Essentially it turns your pages into pop-up ads which is far from ideal.
It seems to me like the search engines now believe they have the power to do exactly what we as content providers have to fight against on a daily basis, content theft and duplication. There have been numerous incidents of people stealing my content lately, the latest of which is Negative Space Productions who have seen fit to lift my entire article from the R2 Relations blog and publish it, without backlinks, or even credit given.
Isn't that pretty much what the search engines are doing? I create that content to drive traffic to the R2 Relations site. Now it's showing up on some other site which may cause me penalties as it could be seen as duplicate content by search engines and taking traffic away from me…just like the video search engines are doing to you. Well I'm sure they're not penalizing you for duplicate content, why would they? You've already given them all the content they could ever want!