Yahoo, Google and the YouTube Phenomenon

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-05-31 Print this article Print

Yahoo is the latest Internet locale that's seemingly been won over by the YouTube phenomenon.

Starting June 1, Yahoo will let anyone contribute a video to the search engine's trove of tens of millions now available. The files will be sprinkled into Yahoo's No. 3 ranked video search engine results, once wrung through Yahoo filters and taste testers.

The upload element is the most telling of a broad redesign of the video search engine Yahoo plans to unleash June 1. In a way, the new wrinkle seems a classic case of if you can't beat 'em join 'em.

The "'em" in this case is YouTube and MySpace Videos, the Nos. 1 and 2 Internet video search providers respectively with a bullet. Each has built most of the video cache on the same user-generated basis Yahoo's now embraced.

At times controversial - pirated videos are constantly being yanked - much of what YouTube and MySpace Videos offer is usually homespun. And each has been a ripping success so far.

Hitwise, the Internet intelligence firm, reports that as of May 20, nearly 43 percent of all video searching was done through YouTube. In second place is MySpace Videos, with 24.2 percent after increasing its site traffic by a whopping 3,800 percent in the last few months.

There's several reasons why Yahoo and other Internet entities are now trying to recreate the successes of YouTube and MySpace. To start with, there's the prospect of the potential riches from placing ads in or alongside the videos, or other ways of wringing the revenues out of the features.

Another rationale is that search engines are constantly looking to improve their results to keep users happy and coming back for more. In this case, it's by mixing in unique content as a way to differentiate themselves from competition.

Also, it seems Internet users like to post their own homemade stuff onto the Internet, whether it's blogs, videos, etc. A recent study of U.S. Internet user behavior found that nearly a third of users have uploaded something homemade onto the Internet.

"The next level is for communities [to] contribute to search," said Jason Zajac, Yahoo general manager for social media products.

Regardless of what forces are at work, the upload phenomenon has taken hold. Google Video, ranked fifth, is almost entirely comprised of uploads. Of the top five search engines, fourth-ranked MSN Video Search is the only one that doesn't take contributions.

But that's soon to end. MSN is currently developing a user-generated/user-submitted video site for later this year, a representative said. The project, code-named Warhol, will be integrated "across the MSN network," according to an MSN spokesperson.

User-generated content extends beyond just video. Search engine on June 1 unveiled a new wrinkle on its Web site.The search engine now more easily incorporates its own blog searching tool. There's no better example of user-generated content than blogs, which are still predominantly single-person operations.

"There's a lot of micro-publishers out there with a lot of useful content," Vice President Daniel Read said of the firm's motivations. |

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