Google to Shut Down AdSense Video Units

Google (s GOOG) last week said it would discontinue its AdSense video units feature at the end of April (via paidContent). The company has lately been trimming its product offerings, even in advertising — eliminating radio and newspaper ad programs as well. Here’s the explanation for the AdSense video units closure from the AdSense blog:

“[W]e’ve found that it hasn’t had the impact we had hoped for. As a result, we’ve decided to retire this feature at the end of April so we can focus our resources on other opportunities to help publishers earn from their sites.”

Google’s AdSense video units always seemed a bit awkward to us (see our private beta coverage, public beta coverage and followup). When I hear AdSense and video together, I think contextually targeted ads spread through the long tail of web video publishers — basically the video equivalent of AdSense for web sites. This was not that. AdSense video units enabled web site publishers to feature YouTube videos from producers on a set list, accompanied by overlay ads. Revenue would be split between Google, the web site owner and the video producer. So basically, you could get paid for people watching embedded videos on your web site.

Google now encourages web site publishers to just embed the videos directly. From comments on the AdSense blog post, it seems some people did use, like and earn money from the feature. But multiple commenters said that was only after considerable work to figure out the video ad units. Though it seems unlikely the units generated a ton of revenue, they’ll inevitably decrease some YouTube video producer earnings.