Whoa There: Video Views to Pass Searches?

There were 16 billion online searches performed in North America in August, 9.8 billion of them by U.S. users on core search engine sites like Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO). When numbers float up into the billions, it can be hard to ground them in apt comparisons — but try this one for size: There were 9.1 billion video views in July, up from 8.4 billion in May and 7 billion in March, notes Tod Sacerdoti, CEO of video advertising startup BrightRoll (I fact-checked the numbers and found them to be slightly different, but they’re essentially the same. Also, I got the August number from comScore so we can make a clear comparison: 9.1 billion video views, the same as the month before).

Sacerdoti’s [admittedly self-serving] hypothesis? At the rate they’re going, U.S. video impressions will pass U.S. searches on core search engines in the next three months, and surpass total search in the next year. Search has proven to be highly monetizable — it accounted for 41 percent of U.S. online advertising revenue in the first half of 2007. If video advertising can even start to match that effectiveness, it is going to be worth buckets of money. The video advertising formats and advertiser commitments are certainly not there yet, but it’s an open-and-shut case of follow the eyeballs.

As Google’s purchase of YouTube marks its one-year anniversary (Oct. 9, 2006), it’s worth taking stock of the progress that’s been (or not been) made. My boss, Om Malik, who bet against the deal, said he’d drop 40 pounds if the rumors came true, something Messrs. Chad and Steve love to tease him about when they’re not gloating over their stacks of cash. Well, I checked with him yesterday, and he’s more than halfway there. He’s lost 22 pounds, ladies and gentlemen!

Over in the land of NewTeeVee, television networks are offering their wares online in what are starting to be non-exclusive deals. Movie studios, meanwhile, are still puttering. They seem to be worried about having the music industry’s fate befall them, so maybe all these announcements by Radiohead and the gang about running their own shops will spur the studios to preempt a similar future. Or maybe not — but let’s bet on next year as being their year to get digital.

Indie video content — with the web as its workshop — is improving every day, and people like MySpace are starting to pay for it. Though some thought YouTube’s competition should have gotten the hell out of Dodge after the big winner got bought a year ago, many independent players have stuck around, and this week TechCrunch offers a detailed feature comparison of 18 top video sites, while Silicon Alley Insider makes educated guesses at their chances of success or doom.

The advertising shift portended by Sacerdoti’s math is another piece of the puzzle. And we can’t forget the core maxim at GigaOM: Broadband is only getting cheaper, and better, so there are only going to be more opportunities for people to build great stuff. And for us to watch.

Full disclosure: Sacerdoti’s company, BrightRoll, is funded by True Ventures, as is NewTeeVee parent GigaOmniMedia Inc.