Panama Corral?

Yahoo scored a win today by corralling 33 Viacom broadband sites -- including, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central -- into its new Panama search advertising system.

Viacom, of course, is currently suing Yahoo competitor Google for $1 billion in a copyright infringement lawsuit, a fact to which Viacom alluded in its press release: "Viacom is a global leader in entertainment that shares Yahoo!'s commitment to connecting users to the content, products and services for which they are looking while respecting copyrights and other intellectual property rights at the same time," said Terry Semel, Yahoo CEO.

If you think you've heard that dig before, look no further than Semel's comments when Yahoo was announced as a launch distributor for NBCU/News Corp.’s video-sharing (and currently vaporware) joint venture.

But as much as everyone wants to paint this story as a loss for Google, let's not forget the G Poppa is making some aggressive moves into Viacom's bread-and-butter territory: television. Google is testing an ad system in California, wrapped up a deal with Dish Network last week and is reportedly about to partner with DirectTV too.

So even if Viacom partners with Google on the Web, who's to say they won't use Google in another medium? Viacom, after all, has a lot of channels. And each of those channels buys commercial time separately, either through an internal department or through an advertising agency. Do you think Viacom will exert such top-down control as to prevent any of those actors from using Google? Hell, they can't even keep their own Web sites from using YouTube.

The point is this: As Google expands, it will gradually become impossible to avoid its brokerage services. Google may not be playing by Viacom's rules, but Viacom, eventually, will have to play by Google's.