Searching for Web Video Riches

Mar 19, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Competition is heating up among the companies that want to out-Google Google in the Internet video search market.

Video search site ClipBlast is poised to introduce a handful of new features to its service this week, while TV Guide in April plans to introduce new capabilities to its online guide. AOL’s video search service Truveo also is adding tools to improve its search results.

These companies are eager to command a dominant position in video search, a field that’s still wide open for competition. The race is on to add features and secure a toehold before Google, the most used search engine, unveils video-search improvements by the end of the year.

Google did not respond to requests for comment.

“The major players are not satisfying the need right now,” said Paul Greenberg, general manager for TV Guide online.

The opportunity to carve out a piece of the video search market is huge. About 45 percent of consumers 18 and older watch video online, according to Forrester Research findings from the third quarter of 2006, while research firm eMarketer says online video advertising sales will grow 89 percent this year to $775 millcompion.

“The industry desperately needs high-quality, comprehensive search and navigation mechanisms to help consumers sort through the explosion of broadband video choices,” said Will Richmond, president of broadband video research firm Broadband Directions.

Video search firms, which earn revenue from licensing their technology and placing advertising next to search results, will play a key role in expanding the market for Web video advertising. As video syndicators seed clips across the Web, more effective search will let users find the material and the ads that accompany it.

Improvements in search technology also may dilute the power of current video-aggregation leaders such as YouTube. An effective, Web-wide video search engine could send more users directly to media company sites, reducing reliance on the aggregators.

The high stakes in video search mean competition probably will intensify this week and more offerings will emerge this year.

TV Guide’s video search service will focus on high-quality, professionally produced content, such as video related to TV shows. For instance, if a user searches for “The Office,” the results will include clips from iFilm, iTunes and NBC.com related to the NBC show, rather than user-generated clips from an office party, Mr. Greenberg said.

“If you are looking for a video of your cat on a skateboard, you won’t find it here,” he said.

The new guide also will feature top videos, a video pick of the day and a list of the most popular online videos.

ClipBlast, which runs a video site, plans to introduce new features this week that let users browse for videos as well as search for them. The new interface will offer browsers a scrolling navigation bar of thumbnail video images on topics such as news or music, said ClipBlast CEO Gary Baker. Users also can browse by category or by video provider. Videos will play within the main page rather than in a new window.

AOL has been adding dozens of servers each week to help it search the Web more thoroughly for online video, said Tim Tuttle, VP for AOL Video. AOL’s Truveo video search engine powers video search for AOL, Brightcove, CSTV and other sites that attract a combined 38 million unique visitors per month.

Consumers have been searching more frequently for video in the last six months, and during that time Truveo has increased the number of unique visitors using its service by 30 percent each month, Mr. Tuttle said.