Since my last post where I was negative on Google buying YouTube I have received many IM’s asking me what my problem was with this purchase.
I have a few things that concern me, and many have written about them before. YouTube could be deluged by lawsuits and put out of business just as effectively as Napster was. Sucks for Napster – I bet today Google would pay 4 Billion for that business which no longer exists as anything that has near the value or popularity of “the real/original” Napster.
And that’s the problem with the Google purchase – it could quickly cost them millions or even hundreds of millions more in legal fees. It will certainly cost them in bandwidth and data centers. And personal to maintain them.
For what? What do you do at YouTube? You watch a video, right? Does it usually come as a link in an email, or from a blog, or do you just go to YouTube to browse? I know VERY few people that do the latter, and many that do the former.
I go to YouTube, watch a video someone linked to, close the browser window and move on. Does YouTube have ads now? I don’t know. I do know they don’t have them at the beginning of linked videos. If they try to force people to view ads, they will quickly fail. I don’t watch videos on MSNBC because they want me to watch a commercial first. Sorry – the content has to be damned compelling for me to watch a commercial. And although I have enjoyed a lot of YouTube videos, none of them have changed my life, or my opinion, or my education. Perhaps they have something besides the goofy comedic videos I normally follow links for. If they do, then they have an image problem – because I certainly wouldn’t think of looking on YouTube for videos of “how to learn to knit”.
I know – you’ll argue that I’ll go to Google to search for video on “how to knit”. Possibly I would. But I *always* ignore any Google results that have a blue background, and I normally ignore the top 2-3 links. Far to often they are paid advertisements of people that bought keywords – the real answer I am looking for is almost always the fourth or fifth result. How will this be different with Google searches for YouTube content? Either Google will place them at the top of the result page, which will break keyword advertising a bit, or they rank them based on popularity, or they do what I expect them to do – randomly “seed” search results with links to YouTube that really shouldn’t be their – not if Google fairly applied their algorithm (I am not suggesting they are not fair now – I am suggesting they could easily NOT be fair, and we wouldn’t know it).
So I think Google won’t elevate YouTube searches any higher than they deserve – at least not initially. And probably never too aggressively. SO that means my chances of clicking through to a YouTube related video based on search probably isn’t much higher than it is now. And now I *rarely* select a YouTube video from a search (in fact, I doubt I ever have).
So what Google is buying is page views and visitors. YouTube is cool. Today. Google will AdSense the hell out of it. And I’ll ignore all of those ads just like I ignore everything on YouTube now – except for the video I clicked through to.
YouTube is very cool, I agree. I like them. I love the fact that I can watch videos there and it costs me nothing. I’ll continue to use them until they interrupt my ability to just watch a video. Once they do that, they won’t be cool anymore. But it really doesn’t matter to me – whatever happens to YouTube there are plenty of other sites that offer similar (or better) features. And any one of them could become the next cool video site – and if they do, Google just flushed a lot of “Google dollars” down the drain.