A number of top advertisers have already signed up for the test, including Pepsi and Netflix. Hewlett-Packard is sponsoring nearly hour-long interviews from PBS's "The Charlie Rose Show," and Burger King is sponsoring seven-minute clips from the 1960s cartoon Felix the Cat.
To pay or not to pay?
Episodes of the Mr. Magoo cartoon that have cost $1.99 since Google Video's January launch are now free to stream, as are Charlie Chaplin movies that cost 99 cents a piece. Other premium offerings, such as CBS's "Survivor" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," will still carry a fee of $1.99. Videos that consumers create and upload to Google Video will remain ad- and cost-free -- unless producers choose to charge fees.
While Yahoo, AOL, MSN and a slew of smaller sites distribute free ad-supported video snippets, pay-to-play remains the norm for longer-form offerings. Apple's iTunes Music Store has championed the pay model since it began selling videos online last October. By April, Apple had already sold 15 million videos at $1.99 a piece.
Disney's ABC just reported a successful test run of free full-length programming online. Its prime-time shows were streamed 11 million times during the first month. Additionally, popular kids shows such as "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" were streamed 26.7 million times between June 2-11 on Disney Channel's broadband player.
Broadband-video market swells
The market for broadband video has ballooned because of increased broadband penetration and technology advances. Twenty-three percent of adults online report watching video on their computers in the past 30 days, according to Nielsen/NetRatings @Plan.
"We are always looking for ways to show targeted and engaging advertising to users, and we think that Google Video is a natural extension of this ongoing effort,'' Google said in a statement.
To participate in the test, advertisers are being asked to select and bid to sponsor individual videos, according to Google's statement. The winning bidders are promised 15- to 30-second post-roll ads, "persistent branding" while the video is playing through a text and icon above the video player, and a listing on the sponsored-videos page.