Google Earth Moves Out of the Silent Era

YouTube videos continue to get more and more portable as Google integrates them into other search products, and approaches a semblance of return on the $1.65 billion it paid for the video site.

The latest is today's announcement that Google will imbed YouTube videos throughout Google Earth, where geographically relevant. This comes days after the announcement that it will scale YouTube's universe of addressable inventory across the AdSense network. Together, these give YouTube content more places to live, and and more places to be monetized (more directly with the latter).

Today's announcement basically means that any video uploaded to YouTube that is geotagged will automatically show up on that location in Google Earth. Though this will attract an early adopter-sized following, it could eventually open up lots of possibilities for travel videos and also small business video advertising which is gaining steam all over the place.

For any small business or individual that does get on board, there would seem to be an opportunity to upload existing video creative to YouTube, geocode it with the precise location of the business and have it be among the first score this map real estate.

The real opportunity in a local search sense, however, is if this is brought to Google Earth's online cousin, Google Maps. Similar functionality already exists there through the MyMaps personalization feature, but it requires users to upload videos to personalized maps.

The Google Earth/YouTube integration, by comparison, has a lower barrier to build overall video content by having YouTube uploads to be geotagged for everyone to see. Although again, there won't be people lining up to do this initially.

This is also analogous to functionality in Flickr that lets photos be geotagged and show up in Yahoo! Maps. And of course there are scores of map mashups for more static media to be represented on a map in a thematic way (the Google Maps Mania blog does a good job chronicling these). Greater video integration just takes this to the next step.

With the growing popularity and portability of online video, it could begin to tie closer together with local search. Involving YouTube, a household name, in the process could lower the barrier for businesses (and anyone else) to get themselves and their videos "on the map" in a more meaningful way.