Contextual search technology presents new ways for providers to promote video content.
Contextual search provider blinkx has launched blinkx.tv, with technology to make television and other multimedia content searchable, providing a distribution channel for video content providers as well as a mechanism for delivering contextual video ads.
Blinkx.tv captures and indexes news, sports and entertainment programming from 22 channels, including Fox News, ESPN and Biography. Search results send users directly to the portion of the video clip that is relevant to the search whenever possible, or to a link to the entire clip if the content requires a subscription.
There are two main ways the company seeks to monetize blinkx.tv, both of which are being explored, said blinkx founder Suranga Chandratillake. The first is a distribution network model, where content owners would pay blinkx for delivering traffic to their sites. Content owners could either pay a flat distribution fee, or give blinkx a share of the revenue they generate from the traffic it drives. A site could, for example, offer a glimpse of its content for free, and then try to upsell access to an entire show or a sell a DVD, sharing with blinkx a percentage of the money it makes.
The second model is similar to the familiar Web search model, where blinkx will index public and licensed content and earn revenue from video ads served to users before content found in search results is shown. This model is already being used by Fox News, which has an agreement that lets blinkx use its content for free, as long as a Fox ad is included before each clip. The same technology that returns relevant video results can be used to target ads.
Another potential marketing application of the technology is for advertisers to make available archives of existing video creative. Consumers are likely to search for campaigns that grab consumer attention, which would result in their being seen by a particularly receptive audience.
Blinkx is not rushing to commit to one model or the other, and in fact both models will work in different situations, Chandratillake said. His focus now is on exploring many different models, and on perfecting the technology itself.
"The more you allow users to get at what they want in an efficient way, the more they'll use your technology," he said. "If people are using your technology, there's always a way to build your business model around that."
Blinkx gets information about the video content using voice recognition technology it licenses from Autonomy, Chandratillake's former employer. Other sites that search television content base their indexing on closed captioning data, which Chandratillake says doesn't put the content in context. Better indexing would presumably make for better search results and more targeted advertising.
"Our technology puts speech in context. That's what humans do," Chandratillake said. "It can tell the difference between me talking about software that will 'recognize speech,' versus an oil tanker spill that will 'wreck a nice beach.' That's hard even for humans to do without context."
Blinkx.tv is available online, from inside blinkx's desktop search product, or via a "smart folder," which allows a user to choose keywords to create a folder on the desktop that will automatically gather either links to video content or complete files, depending on user preference.
Yahoo launched an early beta of its Video Search product this week, which had not been expected to be available until next year.
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