by Glenn Gutmacher, Senior Research at Microsoft
glenn @ recruiting-online.com
Original Post dated: 10/26/2007
I believe audio/video search is only useful in recruiting and sourcing if it goes beyond metatags to full text conversion and searchability. On that score, there are already big distinctions between the major players. Two main players with millions of hours of video, PodZinger (parent company BBN is a general Internet technology pioneer) and Blinkx, compete (and sometimes cooperate) with the video search component of the major search engines.
Most players offer RSS feeds so you can track new matching results as they are added to, or spidered by, the site. However, in the results list, Podzinger uniquely previews the text around your desired keywords and lets you jump right to those parts of the video when those words are said. Likewise, Blinkx automatically parses all text within videos and makes it searchable, too. (I ran tests myself to verify that the search terms can occur deep into the video and not just in some introductory metatag.)
Unfortunately, unlike Podzinger, Blinkx does not index audio files currently, nor does it show where your search keywords appear in the video, nor can you jump to those points. But Blinkx’s special features are a preview mode that shows the first few seconds of each video and 2 lines of text captioning, which is nice for visually-oriented folks. Possibly more helpful from a searcher’s perspective is the ability to create a video wall — a series of thumbnail images tied to your favorite search terms (thanks for the tip from my colleague, Jim). Jim’s post linked to a story indicating Blinkx powers the video search on major sites including AOL, ITN, Lycos and Times Online, and recently added parts of Microsoft’s MSN and Live sites. It also indexes video for many major news services. That’s helpful in the momentum department.
Nexidia uses unique speech recognition technology that processes audio and video faster, and breaks speech down into 42 phonetic sounds. According to search expert Gary Price in a recent article, it’s "easier for an algorithm to tell one sound from among 42 than one word from among the millions in the English language." However, I have not found any public search engine/portal that uses their technology. To date, they seem to be selling to enterprises; I suspect this won’t last long.
The rest are way behind in that they only search the metadata (typically, title and introductory caption), but they have a few redeeming features that the two leading players might want to integrate:
- Pixsy, thanks to a large number of major content partners, is the video and photo search technology behind various sites, most notably PureVideo. The company claims its technology searches for both photos and videos by â€œrelevanceâ€, â€œcategoryâ€, â€œproviderâ€, or â€œfreshness,â€ though the public implementations at their powered partner sites only let you search by keywords (relevance) and category (genre).
- CastTV has a unique approach to metadata, grabbing more context than the others below do, and in unique ways, which is promising but can’t be tested properly until it launches publicly with critical mass of content.
- Google lets you search for videos that can be purchased online by price range, video length and/or content genres (currently available in the US only). Unfortunately, relatively few videos are being genre-coded, so don’t depend on the usefulness of that search criterion. What’s better is Google video search lets you use some of its special commands (e.g., title: to search only within the video’s title), which goes beyond the AND, OR, NOT, exact phrase search capability common to all the video search engines (Podzinger’s interface doesn’t reveal it also supports Booleans, but it does.)
- This is also true for Yahoo’s Advanced Video Search, which also lets you limit results by video file format (multiple select checkboxes). Ditto for Microsoft, whose video search is in beta as is its Soapbox initiative to solicit voluntarily-contributed video. Google is ahead on the latter, but jumpstarted its repository with its recent high-profile acquisition of YouTube, the web’s largest dedicated amalgamation of contributed video, with a high percentage of amateur videos.
The impact on recruiting search of these grass-roots solicitation efforts are unclear, but I would still bet that true Internet-wide crawling for video would be better search results-wise. None of the major search engines seem to be spidering for video or audio as well as they do for text-based pages. AOL claims to be, but the results thus far are anemic.