Blinkx to Offer Contextual Targeting for Video

Three-year-old video search engine blinkx is unfurling two new lines of business. The first, a video ad targeting platform called AdHoc, will begin operations this summer. The second, a Joost-like peer-to-peer video platform dubbed Broadband TV (BBTV), will appear in the fall.

Blinkx’s AdHoc video targeting system joins similar efforts from Nexidia, ScanScout and Pixsy. All have unveiled plans, and variously mature platforms, to pair ads with video based on the content of clips. The firms are vying to bring to video a mode of ad targeting that’s been embraced on the text-based Web since the late ’90s. In those days, affiliate networks were among the first to target ads based on text analysis, but the practice expanded with the advent of Google’s AdSense and other contextual networks. Indeed, blinkx CEO Suranga Chandratillake and ScanScout CEO Doug McFarland separately referred to their respective platforms as “AdSense for video.”

“We think video is ready for the exact same development,” said Chadratillake, pointing to the expanding body of video content, the growing consumer demand for that content, and the eagerness of site owners to monetize it.

AdHoc works by analyzing and indexing a variety of information within and surrounding a video’s content. That includes words spoken in the clip, which blinkx converts to text where possible; visual analysis of the video’s content, including marking scene changes to identify ideal ad placements; and in-page text and metadata appearing on the same page as the movie. AdHoc then uses the available data about the clip to select and serve a relevant ad or ads.

AdHoc will not sell those ads directly, however. Rather it will sit between Web sites and their preferred ad listings providers, including any of several large ad networks that deliver text, banner and in-video ad formats. AdHoc will be compatible with networks including and its LightningCast unit, Eyeblaster, Miva and LookSmart. Google’s AdWords and in-house direct sales are also options. After choosing the source of their ads, publishers leverage AdHoc’s contextual analysis and targeting functions to increase inventory value. Ad formats will include pre-, post- and mid-roll placements, as well as banners and a “post-roll catalog view.”

Blinkx makes its money through revenue sharing with its site partners, but didn’t rule out licensing the technology to networks down the road. The company has yet to name particular sites that will use its system. ScanScout, which made its debut in February with a very similar set of targeting factors, has likewise not identified its publisher partners as of yet.

Separately, Blinkx will roll out its upcoming BBTV peer-to-peer video platform in the fall, by which time it expects to sign numerous distribution deals with content owners. The firm will monetize that content using the same technology and ad formats available with the AdHoc platform. A “very limited” beta will begin next month.

“What Joost is doing is not technically all that unique,” said Julia Blystone, chief marketing officer for blinkx. “It’s just a question of improving the quality a little bit and signing the television deals.”

In addition to its own Web site, blinkx syndicates its video search technology to partners at and MSN. Today, it announced it would also deliver its search product to through a deal with its parent company, InfoSpace.

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