The Missing Keyword Of Search Engine Marketing: Multimedia
As recently as two years ago, Arbitron/Edison Media Research pegged the percentage of online users who have accessed streaming audio and video content on the Web at 50%. Approximately 50 million U.S. consumers, or 21 percent of Americans over the age of 12, accessed audio or video webcasts in July 2003, according to the most recent data from Arbitron/Edison Media Research.
Online news sources, sports sites, entertainment outlets, and even trade publishers on the Web have embraced multimedia as a way to enhance site content and attract the demographically desirable broadband audience. The New York Times has dedicated an entire section of its site to audio, video, and Macromedia Flash-enabled interactive content. Budweiser invites its site visitors to watch its True Films series and even send friends "a living, breathing, talking email." And it seems like forever since BMW wowed the ad world with its BMW Films series of short films.
So why have search engines forsaken multimedia? Simply put, most search engine spiders can't recognize streaming or Flash content. And most that do index multimedia content, such as Lycos, AlltheWeb.com, and AltaVista (all of which are now under the Yahoo umbrella), aren't offering advertisers the ability to market through multimedia content search.
Singingfish wants to change all that. The four-year-old audio/video search services company has indexed more than nine million streams, and powers the multimedia search engines on Real.com, WindowsMedia.com, and Toshiba-owned Japanese Web portal, FreshEye. Singingfish's technology scours the Net for downloadable multimedia in RealMedia, Windows Media, QuickTime, and mp3 formats (just the legal stuff, of course). Content categories include movies, news, sports, music, radio, TV, and "other," which often refers to adult content. Currently, all partner sites deploying Singingfish enable the technology's "family filter" option.
Singingfish is ramping up its new paid inclusion offering, which guarantees inclusion in its index. At the moment, this is Singingfish's sole advertising opportunity. Explains CEO Karen Howe, "Paid inclusion was the easiest thing to do first and learn from; paid placement is coming."
Among Singingfish's paid inclusion advertisers are MovieLink, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and AdUMart, an ecommerce site, which streams TV ads for "As Seen on TV" products like the Miracle Blade III and the Flip Fold shirt-folding machine. Singingfish sells inclusion on a cost-per-click basis, and also allows paid inclusion of a single stream for one year for $49. Advertisers can set live dates and kill dates for specific audio and video streams and are also provided with a landing page that can be tied to particular content.
According to Howe, Singingfish logs a total of three million queries each day via its site and its client sites. "That puts us in the top ten in search engine by query volume," she boasts. That's negligible compared to the hundreds of millions of queries Google users perform each day. However, companies looking to leverage multimedia content have a far greater chance of it appearing near the top of Singingfish and other multimedia search engine results listings than Google listings. Besides missing most multimedia content altogether, search engines like Google attribute more relevance to high content - thus text-heavy - sites.
Some multimedia search engines have a leg up on Singingfish in the Flash department, though. AllTheWeb and Lycos employ FAST technology, which uses Macromedia's Flash Search Engine SDK technology to decompress Flash files and index them in their search databases. The fact that most developers of Flash-based websites and other content neglect to optimize Flash files and pages with metadata or even content-specific Web page titles means there's still a long way to go before Flash content appears regularly in multimedia search engine listings.
While Flash developers may be in need of search optimization education, Howe stresses the need for more search marketing-related schooling in general. Because large ad agencies often sub-out search engine optimization and marketing work to outside service providers rather than doing it in-house, "big agencies still aren't getting search," she charges.