Monday, November 7, 2011

blinkx Powers Video Search and Discovery with Targeted Ads, Acquisitions and New Video Channels

Earlier this year at OTTcon, I caught up with Suranga Chandratillake, CEO and Founder of blinkx, which describes as "the world's largest and most advanced video search engine." Chandratillake founded blinkx in 2004 and has helped pioneer video search on the Internet. Unlike other search engines that focus on text web, titles and metadata, blinkx uses a unique combination of patented conceptual search, speech recognition and visual analysis to find and qualify online video. The company has an index of over 35 million hours of searchable video and more than 720 media partnerships, including national broadcasters, commercial media giants, and private video libraries.



Chandratillake says blinkx has positioned itself as a premier destination for online video.
"When you come to blinkx.com, and search for any topic you're interested in right now, we can find videos for you that match that topic, that are highly relevant to that topic of interest and we bring those back to you. So you can click on them and watch them, and that's our core business. But we also power video search behind the scenes for other people too." 
In particular, if you go to Ask.com, blinkx powers the video search experience for that site, which in turn helps power blinkx's ad business with its tens of millions of unique views each month that it sells advertising against.
"One of the really nice things about the advertising is that we use our search technology to try and target the ads. So if you're watching a video about a particular topic, you will likely see ads that are highly relevant to that video."
From a user perspective, Chandratillake says, that's great because you're not getting irrelevant ads that waste your time.
"It's also great from an advertiser's perspective because it means you're being able to engage people or consumers who may actually care about your product."
In April of 2011, blinkx acquired online video media company Burst Media for $30 million in stock and cash in a move to integrate its premium video content with Burst’s 150 million monthly uniques 35 billion page views (according to comScore Media Metrix, September 2011). Just last week, Burst Media introduced 12 new Internet video channels premium video from a host of blinkx's direct play partners, including Reuters, Howcast, CelebTV, GeoBeats and TVGuide, offering TV-style programming on a wide range of subjects, from food to fashion, celebrity gossip to gardening, health to How To.

blinkx also also made two strategic partnership announcements last week, that it is powering video for Aurasma, and it is partnering with Orb Networks to bring its vast video catalog to Orb BR and Orb TV Users. Aurasma is the world's first visual browser for smartphones and tablets that recognizes physical objects and delivers related online content - videos, animations, audio or web pages - in real time.

Orb TV is a hockey puck-sized OTT device that plugs into any TV, enables consumers to stream online video, photos and music to a TV. In addition to blinkx content, Orb TV provides consumers with easy access to services such as Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu and Comedy Central. Orb BR is a software solution that leverages the power of PS3s and connected Blu-ray players to bring users the same content as Orb TV - without any additional hardware purchase. With the announcement, Orb BR brings blinkx content to the millions of PS3s and connected Blu-ray players in the market.

Chandratillake noted that the the online video and OTT space has come of age after so many years of video on the Internet. What's different, he says, is the momentum at which the idea is gaining. The reason for that is because the reality of that connected television universe is just getting ever close. More and more of us are watching Internet video on our television sets or contemplating the purchase of a set-top box or game system to watch OTT video.
"From a blinkx perspective, we look at the TV as the screen or one of the screens of the future. Today, the vast majority of our business, and most our audience is accessing our system through a computer screen. But in the future, I don't know if it's either two years or five years, I think a lot of people will actually access it straight through a television screen. So we've got be there and offer a very relevant service, but it's very important that we make the right partnerships to make sure our services are available though all these different devices."
Just as OTT video is gaining speed, so is social video, with video discovery and recommendation becoming more relevant than video search, which almost seems antiquated in comparison.
"Search and discovery are two sides of the coin," Chandratillake noted. "So on the one hands they never see each other , or on the other hand they're on the same coin. It's one of these classic cases where things can be so closely inter-related, yet so far apart. But its all down to the nature of what the user or consumer is doing at a given point in time."
Search is more of a lean-in experience, where you're doing investigative work finding specific information in a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. You tend to add, subtract and play around with words to find the right combination to get the best search results. That, of course, is also the case with online video search.

But there are many other cases on television when actually it's about relaxation. It's about leaning back. It's about turning the box on and leaning back on the sofa and having entertainment come to you. Whether that piece of video is recommended to you by a friend or from personalized recommendations like blinkx's system.
"That's where discovery comes in," says Chandratillake,  "discovery is about knowing enough about you, and knowing enough about the content to figure out what you want to watch right now."
About blinkx
blinkx plc (lse aim:BLNX) is the world's largest and most advanced video search engine. Today, blinkx has indexed more than 35 million hours of audio, video, viral and TV content, and made it fully searchable and available on demand. blinkx's founders set out to solve a significant challenge - the growing amount of TV and user-generated content on the Web means keyword-based search technologies only scratch the surface. blinkx's patented search technologies listen to--and even see--video on the Web, helping users enjoy a breadth and accuracy of search results not available elsewhere. In addition, blinkx powers the video search for many of the world's most frequented sites. blinkx is based in San Francisco and London. More information is available at www.blinkx.com.