i-b3a4e9a39fb84945fa09498f44be8209-Google video search.JPG
Video search engines are based on a simple premise: Type in a few key words, and voila! you can see the video you have described. The problem is that the main video search engines haven’t figured out how to match key words to content, and they don’t have all the commercial and amateur video you might want. In other words, if Google Video doesn’t have a deal with ABC, then you couldn’t search for video from an old “ABC Monday Night Football” airing.

So far, most video search engines will give you spotty results for what you want. You might get nothing, or you might get unrelated video. Worse yet, you might have to use a different web browser to view the video, or install special software as with America Online’s video search.

I decided to try out some of the video search engines, and wanted to see if any of them would show me video from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. So I simply typed “2004 summer olympics” (without the quotation marks) into a few video search engines, and had pretty poor results. Blinkx gave me the most results, but nothing from the 2004 games. There were many more results for the Special Olympics, as well as for the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics.

Google Video had a video teaser from the CBC in Canada, but it costs 99 cents to view. There’s a free clip about an Army soldier who was training to make the U.S. team for the 2004 games, but it’s only audio with no video. (The screen shot above is taken from that report.)

Yahoo Video was clogged up with various advertisements that ran during the 2004 Olympics. That is, the search results brought up videos showing the advertisements — they were not ads that ran on Yahoo’s pages. I had no luck whatsoever with MSN Video, which requires Internet Explorer to use.

Probably the closest I got to actual Olympic footage from 2004 was a search I did on AOL Video, which brought up a video called “Olympic Insider: Dominique Dawes,” which looked like an explanatory video rather than actual clips from the games themselves. But when I clicked on the search result, a box popped up asking for my AOL Screen Name. After registering for a screen name, I also had to install a special video player from AOL. And after all that, I tried to watch the video and it never showed up.

Now maybe I’m searching for something that’s squarely in the hands of NBC, which has U.S. rights to those Olympics Games. Or maybe this is an event that happened too far in the past. This is where you all come in. I ask that you try doing your own search for video using these services, and others I haven’t mentioned, and report back to us on your results. You can either use the Feedback page, which goes directly to my email in-box, or you can report back in the Comments below.

Next week, I’ll do a summary of what you found, and credit you for your work. The idea here is that I don’t have all the answers, nor does any one of us, but together, perhaps, we can find the strengths and weaknesses of video search engines.