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Google Adds Playback to Video Search

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Google Video Search now includes video content uploaded by users, and this content can be displayed directly in your browser window.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members explains how to prepare your own video and upload it to Google, and how to manage your Google Video account. Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Google has been collecting video from users since April, but until today that content has not been accessible. Today's launch now allows you to keyword search user-submitted video content, and if you download the new Google Video Viewer you can watch the content directly in Internet Explorer or Firefox on computers running Microsoft Windows.

"We have a lot of content that we've received via the upload program, and we've been overwhelmed with the quality," said Peter Chane, senior product manager for Google Video. The content covers a wide range of subject material, and includes both amateur and professionally produced material.

To find content to view, search for it through the Google Video Search. This is the same interface used to search the television programming that Google has been indexing since December of last year.

The difference is that you can actually play videos uploaded by users, while you can only see stills and transcripts from the television programming. Viewable videos are indicated by a triangular "play" icon at the top of a search result.

To view videos, you first need to download the new Google Video Viewer, a small applet that allows you to click on Google Video search results and watch the video play directly within the search results. Until now, Google Video has ironically offered only still images of the television programming it has indexed. The video viewer is adapted from the open source VideoLan (VLC) player, a small application that plays the mpeg audio and video formats that Google requires for user submitted videos.

Google Video search looks at metadata encoded with the video. Chane said many videos were also submitted with transcripts and annotations that are time-coded, allowing playback to begin at the point where your search terms are located in clips. If your search terms appear in multiple locations, results will display thumbnail stills and snippets from those locations, as well.

At this point, there is no categorization, directory-type structure or any other information that lets you know what kind of video content is available—you just have to search and hope for the best. To be fair, the same is true for most other video search services, such as Yahoo Video, though Yahoo does offer an advanced video search that gives you more control over your results.

Chane said that Google plans to continue to add content, and will also make the Google Video Viewer available for other platforms sometime soon.

Google also plans to offer the ability for content owners to charge a fee for users to view video. Google will take a small portion of the fee to defray its costs. Chane did not say when Google plans to implment this pay-per-view feature, though it's likely to use the online payment system that Google is developing.

It will be interesting to see whether the Google Video Viewer is adopted in a widespread fashion. If so, it could establish a new standard platform for playing video on the web—content providers could offer video that would play directly in a browser window, and that content could be hosted anywhere, not just on Google's servers.

For more information on the new Google Video program, see Danny Sullivan's blog post More Q&A With Google Video Manager. Want to find other sources of video on the web? Check out Gary Price's blog post A Look At Other Video Search Tools.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members explains how to prepare your own video and upload it to Google, and how to manage your Google Video account. Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Want to discuss or comment on this story? Join the Google to Launch In-Browser Video Playback discussion in the Search Engine Watch forums.

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