November 29, 2004 4:00 AM PST
Striking up digital video search
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clips, trailers and music videos--ran out of money and closed during the dot-com bust, despite strong ties to content providers. It had content-licensing agreements with the likes of MGM, Reuters and the American Film Institute. Virage, too, developed technology for searching video and audio, but some executives say its software was weak.
Google has filed patents related to video search and the display of relevant advertising. For example, in September 2003, Google co-founder Larry Page filed a seemingly broad patent application for a "method to search media." Its system relies on stored data sets, or text "metatags" that represent published content or media, to retrieve and match multimedia to query terms. "Publishers provide authorization to display copyrighted materials through a permission protocol," according to the patent application.
More immediately, Google has been working with National Public Radio and others to index transcripts of audio already on the Internet so that clips can be searchable from its news search engine.
The 800-pound gorilla
Microsoft is betting on search technology for the Internet, with plans to introduce its own engine next year. But more broadly, it's developing search technology that will be platform agnostic, meaning it will allow people to find text and video from various mediums like broadband, broadcast and set-top boxes. It aims to do so by creating a specialized index for traceable programming labeled with metatags, or keywords.
It also is testing a system for inserting commercials into video that would be contextually relevant to the programming.
A Microsoft representative would not confirm the company's video search plans, but said that its Asia labs are working on projects surrounding annotating video for search purposes. The representative added that the company is not pre-releasing product plans for CES.
"The ways in which we navigate video is underwhelming for people," said Alan Schulman, chief creative officer of Brand New World, an advertising and new media company. "The Web is spoiling us with customization and personalization. We have to offer the same way to navigate video whether it's in broadband or television."
Yahoo's video play
Yahoo also is trying to index Web video available online today and broaden the reach of its search-related advertising program.
The Web portal plans to collect XML feeds of video content from third-party publishers. That way, it can index programming and make it searchable to visitors. Yahoo's database will rely on the title and description of video content to deliver relevant results, as opposed to actual language within the video.
The copyright questions are more clear in this proposition: Internet content companies looking to drive traffic to their video can likely sell more TV-like advertising if it works.
Yahoo spokeswoman Stephanie Iwamasa would not confirm the existence of a Yahoo video search service.
"We have not announced any launch plans for multimedia search and do not have relationships (feeds or otherwise) with video search aggregators," she wrote in an e-mail. "Furthermore, we do not comment on rumor or speculation."
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