Video Search Worlds Collide

Video search optimization and advertising worlds have collided, and the big bangs bursting forth will shape the video marketing landscape for years to come.

The audience at last week's OMMA panel "Video Search Optimization: Prime Time for Prime Positioning" got a taste of what's happening thanks to the four engaging speakers from Blinkx, Viewdle, ScanScout, and VeoTag. It was the perfect embodiment of the "Worlds Collide" theme of the entire OMMA event.

Here's a glimpse into the worlds of the four presenters from the panel:

Blinkx: Jay Prasad, director of strategy & business development

Blinkx, perhaps the best known brand in video search today, shared its boldest claim right on the title slide of its presentation, calling itself "the new way to watch TV."  Given how many options there are for viewing TV online or on a mobile or portable device, and given that most TV is viewed on a TV, I'd be reluctant to call any online technology "the new way" to watch, but it does point to Blinkx's ambitions beyond just search.



While Blinkx is taking a leadership position with video search optimization thanks to resources such as its white paper on video SEO, it's also rolling out an ad network, AdHoc. Blinkx uses its search technology, including speech-to-text indexing and visual analysis (it can recognize brand logos within videos) to contextually target video ads in a range of formats. This hints at a new trend: If you have search technology, the ad targeting will follow.

Viewdle: Barry Schiffman, co-founder and senior vice president, strategic alliances.

Viewdle's focuses on one specific challenge of video search -- facial recognition -- and it's now in a live beta test in Reuters Labs. There, you can search Reuters videos for names of celebrities or news-making politicians such as Angelina Jolie, Angela Merkel, and Ang Lee, to name a few. The Merkel search brings up eight listings, including one for the news story from Reuters Germany, "Merkel und Sarkozy beraten über Finanzmarktkrise," and you can click to see not just the exact spot where the chancellor of Germany appears, but also each segment featuring the president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.

While Viewdle's current focus is on licensing its technology to increase user engagement on publishers' sites, it also plans to debut advertising offerings, along with a consumer-facing destination of its own.

ScanScout: Waikit Lau, co-founder and president

Rather than bill itself as "the new way to watch TV," ScanScout's site says it offers "a glimpse into the future of digital television." ScanScout developed video search technology, but unlike Blinkx and Viewdle, ScanScout has been solely committed to the ad network model. As is de rigueur these days, ScanScout's ad formats are tickers and overlays, which can open videos or other more engaging formats above the ad or in an accompanying window. Ads can be targeted to the keyword uttered in a clip, an option not available with comparable formats on YouTube. Here, ScanScout draws inspiration from the AdWords model in a way that Google hasn't come close to applying on its own. This perfectly mirrors the Blinkx ad network, which framed itself as an evolution of Google's AdSense contextual network.

VeoTag: Scott Rhodes, CEO

VeoTag, unlike others on the panel, is purely focused on making online videos more accessible by making them easier to navigate and then easier to find in search engines. Anyone can tag an audio or video clip, basically creating a table of contents with whatever degree of detail is desired. Search engines can then index the tags; without the tags, this content would have probably been invisible to the mainstream engines.

You can find examples of how the videos rank in search engines by perusing the library of tagged clips on VeoTag's site and then searching for keyword phrases. For instance, say you remember hearing or reading the phrase "most PR is spam" somewhere. A search for it in quotes will bring you to Paul Dunay's blog, where he shares a podcast of his interview with author David Meerman Scott. Other searches lead directly to the tagged segment of the video, such as this demo Scott Rhodes shared for "swiftkids dora." VeoTag fits into the collision theme, albeit from a different angle. It's more from the classic SEO standpoint of a site's editor using VeoTag to drive traffic to the site, so the editor winds up playing a clutch role on the marketing team.

Collision Course

Throughout OMMA, every one of the search marketing tracks exemplified how Worlds Collide. Two panels touched on the melding disciplines of social media marketing and search engine optimization. One panel simultaneously tackled local search and mobile search, while another discussed the confluence of SEO and paid search. OMMA's last search session featured a slew of case studies on how marketers are using search and display advertising together. In that last panel, an audience member shared that he's been working with display advertising for years and has been waiting to see real examples of the two types of media being used together. His dream was realized.

These are all big bangs. The marketer tasked with using one of the most traditional of channels, the Yellow Pages, must simultaneously pursue the next frontier of mobile marketing. The marketer trained to monitor conversions from keyword-triggered search ads must embed the best keywords in widgets for search engine optimization. The marketer ensuring that videos on a site rank well in search engines must broker media buys on other video sites and networks. Tectonic plates are shifting, land masses are changing, and worlds are colliding in chain reactions. Harness the energy created. The alternative -- to return to a complacent equilibrium -- is untenable today. BANG.
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