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Google Video dead! Long live your archive!

On the 16th of April, Google sent out an email: “Later this month, hosted video content on Google Video will no longer be available for playback. Google Video stopped taking uploads in May 2009 and now we’re removing the remaining hosted content.”

We hope your publication is not affected by this irreversible deletion of content by possibly the largest media hosting service on the Internet today. But for every online publication there is an important lesson to be learned: value your content, protect your archive and don’t trust others to do it for you. Not even the big players. This post might provide some help to develop a future proof strategy for your media archives.

Sure, Google Video never managed to become a widely used service, especially after all efforts went into promoting and expanding YouTube. However, erasing all content will affect those publications who - at the time - used Google Video to host their videos and included them into their publications via embedding. These publications now face immense costs in retrieving their own content and hosting it somewhere else. Additional editorial work will go into editing the back archive to point towards the newly uploaded files. And all of this under the pressure of deadlines set by Google.

Who is next? Flickr? Vimeo? Facebook? Soundcloud? Google Maps? Over the past years it became increasingly easy to use third party services to handle your content. Comments, videos, presentations, image streams, slide shows, today all of these are easily managed elsewhere and then delivered on your website through widgets or embed codes. Once these companies go out of business, decide to discontinue their services or change their licensing model, you will probably face losing your content. And you definitely face the costs of retrieving, migrating and re-linking your content.

Mashups present the same danger. Despite the fact that they are easy to produce and embed, the content is not with you. You have handed over your work to a third party provider and your success depends on their existence and strategies.

The key to understanding the best practice of using third party providers lies in understanding the difference between the Internet as a live medium and the Internet as a content archive. Over the past years, instant messaging and services like Facebook and Twitter have changed the way publications work online. The Internet became a live medium where trending topics on an hourly basis determine the success of a publication every day in bringing in traffic. Social Media Marketing is dedicated to direct and attract this kind of traffic.

Besides this increasing attention on real time traffic, the Internet is still an archive. This is being illustrated by the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) where the value of already existing, archived content is being maximised, bringing in traffic and revenue. And this traffic is being generated at comparably low costs since the production, editing and publishing has already been paid. With some effort in SEO, your content will increase visibility over time. Especially historical events, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, will never stop attracting traffic, once you managed to get your content pool well linked, optimised and rank high. The benefits outrun the costs by far.

The lesson to be learned is simple: value your archives. Use third party providers only for immediate presence and larger circulation and to lower your costs. But do not trust third party providers to be your archive. If you have a video, host it in your archive in a way that you have control over it. If you have user generated content, host it on your site and promote it through Social Media. Don’t be afraid to lower your page rank with duplicate content when it comes to Social Media, because the Internet as a live medium is not here to stay, it is here to go.

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