Beyond YouTube: New Ways to Find Video on the Web


Type “home improvement video” into a traditional search engine and you’re likely to get clips of the TV show starring Tim Allen, how-to segments on lawn sprinklers and video of groundbreaking ceremonies of a new Lowe’s in Derby, Conn. Now, some video search engines are creating new tools that make it easier to search and sift through the results.

Traditional search engines depend on video publishers to add tags and keywords — called metadata — to the clips before they are uploaded to the Web. But a lot of videos lack detailed metadata, making it hard for search engines to automatically categorize the content. Worse yet, some videos may be tagged incorrectly — sometimes intentionally, a practice known in the industry as “tag spam.” A video tagged with “Olympics” that is actually a clip of a political attack ad is an example.

VideoSurf technology analyzes images to aid searches.
So some video-search sites are moving beyond tags and keywords. For example, San Mateo, Calif.-based VideoSurf Inc. is using technology that can search the actual content of the video. Inside YouTube, Google Inc. is experimenting with speech-recognition technology to identify the words and phrases spoken in videos. Some sites, like CastTV, comb the sites of publishers’ such as CBS.com and ComedyCentral.com and compile an index of links for one-stop surfing. Other search engines are supplementing traditional search technology by mining for additional details about video clips, such as how they have been rated by viewers and how many times they have been viewed.

Web users in the U.S. enjoy their video — more than 11 billion clips were viewed online in July alone, according to comScore Inc. That’s up from nine billion videos in July 2007. YouTube, along with blogs and online networking sites MySpace and Facebook, have helped drive those numbers.

By far, YouTube is the leading host of Web videos, garnering five billion video views in July alone, according to comScore. Here, media companies as well as amateur videographers upload clips to the site and insert metadata so that videos are searchable by type, by popularity and by user ratings. But on YouTube, users will find only video that has been uploaded to that site; they will miss millions of other professional and amateur videos elsewhere on the Internet.

Tony Velasco, a 35-year-old small-business consultant from Austin, Texas, visits YouTube to watch music videos and Funnyordie.com for original content. But copyrighted content can be tricky to find sometimes, he says, since some if it is never posted, or clips are removed after a certain time period.

‘Hit or Miss’ Search
For example, finding clips of ” ‘Saturday Night Live’ is very hit or miss” on YouTube, he says, because oftentimes the content is pulled in a matter of days. So he must look elsewhere.

That’s why sites like CastTV search for content directly from publishers, going beyond just YouTube. Alex Vikati and her husband, Edwin Ong, founded CastTV after a trip to Asia, where they grew frustrated searching piecemeal for sports highlights across the Web. The San Francisco-based company wants to index every video on the Web so that users need go to only one site to find it, Ms. Vikati says.

View Full Image

VideoSurf
VideoSurf can sort video clips in multiple ways.
Elsewhere, VideoSurf Inc. is analyzing the actual visual content of videos using technology known as “computer vision algorithms,” which produces more relevant search results, says Lior Delgo, the company’s chief executive. Computer vision is the science of programming computers to process and analyze images and video.

For example, VideoSurf’s technology can identify characters within search results. A search for the television show “Lost” brings up results for the show and also a thumbnail photo for each character. Clicking on the thumbnail of “Lost” actress Evangeline Lilly will bring up clips from the TV show and also other clips of Ms. Lilly, like her appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman.” The site has indexed 10 million videos from 50 different online video sources.

Google, meanwhile, recently released a search widget called Google Elections Video Search. Using speech recognition, videos uploaded to YouTube’s Politicians Channels are transcribed and indexed. This lets users search for words that are spoken in a clip. Viewer can also automatically jump to the exact point in the video when a phrase is said.

Several sites like Burbank, Calif.-based startup Mefeedia incorporate social aspects — like which clips are making the rounds on popular blogs and what site uploaded the video — into their search approach. As a result, clips that have been rated highly by viewers and that are embedded on popular sites are ranked higher in Mefeedia’s search results. The site has indexed 15 million videos from 15,000 sources, according to the site.

Viewers are fickle, says Frank Sinton, Mefeedia’s chief executive. “Only one percent of people go to page two” of the search results when looking for video, he says, so it’s important to have the relevant results on that first page.

Blinkx PLC, one of the bigger video-search sites, is another company that has worked to improve its understanding of viral videos, says Suranga Chandratillake, the company’s chief executive. Because it’s difficult to determine which video clips will become Internet sensations, Blinkx says it developed technology that points to clues that a video will take off — like if it gets linked to Wikipedia articles or on social-networking sites. According to its site, blinkx has 350 media partnerships and indexed 26 million hours of online video.

Searching for TV Shows
Blinkx has also expanded its search services. In August, the company launched a new service called “blinkx Remote” to search specifically for TV shows. Blinkx Remote indexes full-length clips that are legally available from sites across the Web from sites like Hulu, CBS.com and Showtime’s site at Sho.com. The company hopes users will use its site instead of visiting each site individually to find content.

Human Intelligence
Some sites haven’t given up on human intelligence when searching for video. OvGuide.com, a Los Angeles-based start up, says it uses people to identify only the best video. “We only search what we think is a good site so we control the results; and we also control the ranking editorially,” says Dale Bock, OvGuide’s president and founder.

OvGuide’s staff reviews every Web site that it searches to make sure only high-quality videos are on the site. If a site has too many non-working video links or page after page of video spam, the site won’t be included in the search index. This approach ensures that viewers can find videos that are relevant to them, he says. OvGuide searches about 2,650 different sites and has more than 300 million accessible videos.

Thad Mcllroy, a 52-year-old electronic publishing analyst from Toronto, has been using OvGuide to find new video sites for about a month. Mr. Mcllroy says he enjoys the site’s travel and news sections, where he watches videos from the BBC and The Guardian.

Mr. Mcllroy, who now watches a few videos online a day, says he is looking for videos online more now. Before, it was hard to cut through the clutter. “You get far too much thrown at you and waste far too much time,” he says.

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

TV+Social Network=?

Your television set is about to become a lot friendlier.

Seen by many as a one-way medium where the content comes through but nothing goes back, the TV generally goes off and the computer goes on when people want to connect and communicate with others.

But now, some of the tools that allow people to build communities and socialize on Internet sites like MySpace and Facebook are making their way to the living room.

TV Takes a Cue From the Web
196:00
Ever wish your television talked back? Well now it does and more. Stacey Delo talks to WSJ’s Christopher Lawton about the new ways people are using their TV to be social. (Oct. 24)
The movement was pioneered in part by videogame-console makers such as Microsoft Corp. as a way to connect hard-core gamers for competitive matches, and it is gaining momentum as those companies and others seek to entice a broader audience to chat with friends, share photos and recommend movies and music over their television screens.

Analysts say social networking has the potential to play a key role in shaping what people watch and do on the biggest screen in their homes. They say that eventually could pay off — perhaps in terms of subscription revenue or advertising — for the companies involved in these mostly nascent ventures, as efforts to marry the Internet and the TV gain traction.

“The TV set is evolving and content itself is evolving,” says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst in the research division of Darien, Conn.-based Jupitermedia Corp. Understanding what friends are watching or doing on their TV screens “has to have a tremendous amount of value,” he says.

The Journal Report

See the complete Technology report.Seeking Connections
Gamers have been able to message and befriend each other through the TV since 2002, when Microsoft launched Xbox Live, the gaming and entertainment service that allows Xbox-console owners to connect to the Internet and compete against each other in multiplayer games. More than 60% of Xbox owners subscribe to Live, according to Microsoft, some paying a $50 annual fee for a premium version of the service.

Right now, the only way to chat with fellow subscribers is to create a game session and invite them in. Some users create game matches for the sole purpose of chatting, showing that for many, the social experience is just as important as the game, says Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox Live.

The Redmond, Wash., company is redesigning Xbox Live to add more social-networking features. The idea is to give subscribers more of the social connections they crave, while broadening the appeal of the Xbox console beyond the hard-core gaming community.

Jason SchneiderThe new version, due out Nov. 19, will include a chat feature in which groups of as many as eight people will be able to communicate with each other via headsets, regardless of what they are doing. Members also will be able to share photos and create unique graphic images of themselves, called avatars, that can interact with other subscribers’ avatars in a virtual community.

Eric Word, a recent high-school graduate in Columbus, Ohio, says he is looking forward to the new Xbox Live because he won’t have to enter game sessions to talk to friends. “Sometimes I don’t get in the mood to play, but I still want to talk to these people and see how their day is going,” says the 18-year-old Mr. Word.

Sony Corp., too, is preparing to launch a virtual-community service for its competing PlayStation 3 videogame system. The free service will allow players to create avatars, interact with others in a virtual world and chat through the game console.

The company says it plans to launch the service, called Home, this fall, though it declined to be more specific.

A Broader Audience
TAG Networks Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., is trying to expand social networking based on gaming beyond videogame consoles to a much broader cable-television audience.

The firm owns a subscription-based games-on-demand TV network that allows people to use their remote controls and cable boxes to connect and play with other casual gamers. According to founder and Chief Executive Sangita Verma, the setup is simple: Gamers create profiles, compete for high scores in their area and match up for multiplayer games. Next year, the channel will introduce a more formal social network with buddy lists, messaging and other ways to connect multiple players.

“Gamers today expect to be able to communicate and play against other people,” says Ms. Verma. “I think there is a paradigm shift in the way people think about games and play games.”

TAG TV has more than 200,000 subscribers in Hawaii and is being tested with cable companies in Texas and Alabama.

Movie studios and software firms also are helping to bring social networking into the living room.

Studios such as Walt Disney Co., Sony Pictures and Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures are adding features to Blu-ray movie discs that allow people with certain Blu-ray DVD players to interact while watching movies. Disney’s recent release of “Sleeping Beauty,” for example, includes a “movie chat” feature in which friends watching the movie simultaneously from different locations can exchange messages on their TV screens with Internet-connected devices such as iPhones or BlackBerrys.

New York software firm Boxee, meanwhile, has incorporated social-networking features into a media-player application designed to be used with a remote control and viewed on a large screen, like that of a TV connected to a PC.

The application, which can be downloaded free, offers users a single interface through which to organize and play media content such as videos, movies, music and photos from their PCs or the Internet. It also allows users to sit in front of their TV screens and, via remote control, recommend movies, music and other content to Boxee users they have befriended. They can see in real time what songs those friends are listening to or the movies or TV shows they are watching by monitoring a so-called media-activity feed appearing on their screens.

For piracy reasons, Boxee’s software stops short of allowing people to share content with friends. But Dave Mathews, vice president of product development, says that even if a person is watching a pirated copy of a movie or TV show and recommends it to friends, the software will send the recommendation and tell the friends where they can stream the content legally.

Versions of Boxee’s software for Apple Inc.’s Macintosh computers and for PCs based on the Linux operating system are in testing. A version for PCs running the Windows operating system is due out by the end of the year.

Robert Basil, an information-systems manager in Tempe, Ariz., has been testing Boxee on a Mac Mini connected to his flat-panel TV for several weeks. He says he likes Boxee because he prefers media recommendations from friends rather than professional reviewers.

“Nobody knows what you like better than your friends,” says the 41-year-old.

—Mr. Lawton is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco bureau.
Write to Christopher Lawton at christopher.lawton@wsj.com

YouTube tosses 10-minute limit to show full TV episodes

YouTube tosses 10-minute limit to show full TV episodes

By Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

SAN BRUNO, Calif. — YouTube, the world’s most popular video-sharing site, grew to dominate the field with a collection of funny amateur videos, political gotchas and unauthorized TV and movie content.
The new YouTube, more popular than ever, has a different look. Much, but not all, unlicensed content is gone, replaced by approved material from such producers as CBS, HBO, Showtime, Sony Television and Lionsgate.

Google-owned YouTube also has tossed aside its 10-minute-video limit rule. It is running full-length episodes of TV shows, starting with a test of three CBS-owned shows: Star Trek, MacGyver and Beverly Hills, 90210. The moves are a response to competition from sites offering full-length videos including Hulu, Veoh and blip.tv, which are gaining traction with viewers.

“YouTube is a clip culture,” says Jordan Hoffner, YouTube’s director of content partnerships. “But we saw that there was a demand for longer form, and a market that’s growing, so we decided to try it.”

Film fest spotlight

YouTube last week showed its first full-length Hollywood “studio” film on its Screening Room channel for independent filmmakers. Director Wayne Wang’s (The Joy Luck Club) two-hour The Princess of Nebraska, from Magnolia Pictures, has attracted over 150,000 views already.

Screening Room launched in June to feature film festival offerings, mostly short films. For non-pros, YouTube has a 10-minute limit on uploaded videos, but Hoffner says he hopes to have more longer films showing by the end of the year outside of Screening Room.

YouTube so rules online video that it showed 5.3 billion videos in September, according to measurement firm Nielsen Online. The closest runner-up was Yahoo, with 264,266 video streams.

But as YouTube has grown even more popular, Hollywood has gone to great lengths to create and nurture video alternatives, says Phil Leigh, an analyst at Inside Digital Media.

Hulu, launched to the general public by NBC Universal and News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox in March, was the sixth-most-popular site for video in September, according to Nielsen, with 142,261 streamed videos.

It offers Internet favorites such as clips and full episodes of Saturday Night Live, Family Guy and The Simpsons. And like YouTube, it offers tools to share clips on websites and blogs.

YouTube’s most viewed entertainment channel is from partner CBS — clips from Late Show with David Letterman, sitcoms, news and sporting events. Competing sites Veoh, Fancast and AOL tout their own partnerships for material from CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC.

Hoffner says he isn’t bothered that YouTube doesn’t have NBC, ABC and Fox. “We’ve got thousands of partners,” he says. “We’re talking with everybody.”

When YouTube began, Hollywood was infuriated that so many unauthorized clips ran next to homemade videos. Viacom, owner of Paramount Pictures, MTV and Comedy Central, responded with a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube that has yet to go to trial.

Leigh ties the absence of NBC, Fox and ABC from YouTube to the lawsuit. “The networks are waiting to see what happens,” he says.

In late 2007, YouTube tried to deal with Hollywood’s concern by launching a system to deal with fan clips. Once the copyright holder identifies the clip and contacts Google, they are offered two choices: have the material taken down, or let YouTube place ads on the clip, and split the revenue. YouTube says 90% choose the revenue option.

Drumming up revenue

Google (GOOG) doesn’t break out results for YouTube, which it paid $1.7 billion for in 2006, so its profitability is a mystery. Google execs say that the unit is profitable but has a ways to go.

“We’re working but have not yet, in my view, gotten a breakthrough around monetization,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt told CNBC earlier this year.

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey says advertisers have been reluctant to spend big dollars on YouTube. Instead they prefer the more targeted ad approach on sites such as Hulu and ABC.com, where people come to watch specific shows.

“If you’re an advertiser, where will you put your money?” he says. “In front of content you’re not sure about, or behind a series like 30 Rock, a known brand?”

YouTube initially shunned “pre-rolls” — TV-like commercials that run before a video clip — in favor of embedded clickable links that didn’t interrupt the flow of a program. Madison Avenue prefers pre-rolls, McQuivey says.

But for the Star Trek, MacGyver and Beverly Hills, 90210 TV episodes, YouTube has gone totally traditional, offering old-fashioned pre-rolls that can’t be paused, fast-forwarded or even muted. “The ads match this type of professional content,” Hoffner says. “Our advertisers tell us what they want.”

USA TODAY
Oct 24, 2008

YouTube, Other Sites See Spike in Viewers

By Daisy Whitney

YouTube’s audience jumped in September to nearly 82 million unique viewers watching more than 5.3 billion streams, according to the latest figures from Nielsen Online.

That’s a huge boost from August, when the site’s 77 million unique visitors checked out more than 4.7 billion streams. Seasonal fluctuations are likely the case for the big jump; many Internet sites get a boost when students return to school and employees return from August vacations.

Other video sites felt the love too. Yahoo drew nearly 30 million unique visitors in September watching 264 million streams, up from about 20 million uniques viewing 169 million streams. Fox Interactive Media, led by MySpace, saw a burst in unique viewers, but they watched fewer videos: 19 million unique visitors checked out 242 million streams in September, compared with 16 million uniques viewing 278 million streams in August.

From TV week October 21, 2008 5:43 PM

Study: Online Viewers More Engaged

From TVweek.com Oct 8, 2008

By Daisy Whitney

A sizable contingent of online video viewers are more engaged with Web programming then they are with TV programming, according to a report released today by online video site Veoh Networks.

Veoh found that so-called “engaged viewers,” those who watch more than an hour of online video each week, make up nearly 40% of online viewers, and that they watch nearly 75% of all online video. This data is promising to advertisers who are keen to find engaged viewers in any ad medium. This group is twice as likely to recall ads as other online video viewers, Veoh said.

About one-third of engaged viewers are 13 to 24, and they are also more likely to watch videos all the way through, pay more attention to videos they do to TV, and interact with and rate the videos.

Veoh also found that 61% of engaged viewers expect to spend significantly more time watching online video in the next year, and this group watches an average of six kinds of online video content.

BBC to Launch Six New YouTube Channels

BBC Monitoring Media

October 3, 2008 – BBC Global News has extended its relationship with YouTube, the leading online video community, by signing an agreement to add six BBC video news channels in Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Persian and Urdu to its existing BBC World News channel.
In what is the first multilanguage deal by a major international news broadcaster with YouTube, users will have access to high quality, independent and impartial news clips produced by the BBC World Service in six languages.

Video news stories will run each day across the different language channels and each channel will be branded and tailored to its specific audience.

The videos will also be fully discoverable via Google Video search.

Jim Egan, Director of Strategy and Business Development, BBC Global News, says: “We are very pleased to extend our relationship with Google through the planned launch of six new channels, offering video news to YouTube’s users in Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Persian and Urdu.

“This deal reflects BBC Global News’ determination to reach and engage with audiences across the world in unique and pioneering ways.”

Patrick Walker, YouTube’s Director of Video Partnerships for Europe, Middle East and Africa, says: “YouTube is a truly global platform that connects millions of people from all over the world, many of whom have a strong interest in international news.

“By bringing top quality news content to the YouTube community in many languages, the BBC is taking an innovative step to engage with this large and diverse audience.”

The six new language channels are set to launch by the end of this year.

Originally published by BBC World Service press release, London, in English 2 Oct 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Media. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

Chrysler CMO: 30 Percent Goes to Digital

September 22, 2008
Chrysler CMO: 30 Percent Goes to Digital
Chrysler CMO Deborah Meyer said the auto and truck maker has dedicated 30 percent of its advertising budget to digital.

“We think it’s a good number. Now the challenge is to optimize on digital and what’s in other media as well,” she said in an interview with ClickZ after addressing the Interactive Adverting Bureau’s Mixx conference in New York. She declined to disclose Chrysler’s annual advertising and marketing budget.

Chrysler, she said, uses an assortment of technologies including Specific Media’s targeting tools and Vibrant’s in-text video.

Chuck Sullivan, director of Chrysler Interactive, said the company’s investments in search engine optimization are paying off, too. “The better we do with SEO, the more effective we can be with our ad dollars,” he said.

So what success metrics does Chrysler track? They include a dealer’s performance on closing leads, response times to customer inquiries, and more. Chrysler has tested these metrics for several months and is about to expand the initiative soon.

Automakers have been hard hit by tightening consumer credit, and automakers are tightening their belts, too.

“Every dollar has to work 10 times as hard as it used to do. This is why [the shift to digital] is moving at an incredible rapid pace. There’s no fat left in the system,” Meyer said.

Posted by Anna Maria Virzi at September 22, 2008 5:20 PM