What Works in Online Video Search? What Works on Connected TVs?

You can put your videos on your website and you can enable your videos for connected TVs, but what makes them succeed on either platform is vastly different.

At a Streaming Media Europe panel discussion, experts from the video search world gave tips on what works and what doesn't. Mark Robertson, publisher of ReelSEO.com, started things off with Brightcove/Tubemogul research showing that video referrals are up from Google, but down from social site Facebook. Facebook referrals were more valuable, however, as visitors who followed a Facebook referral watched for far longer.

Google and Bing are both now looking to Facebook and Twitter when creating their search rankings. How much your videos are tweeted and liked will influence how they come up in search.

"Social is crucial for search discovery," Robertson said.

Robertson encouraged sites to make browsing easy for viewers. People might do a search to find a particular video, he said, but will browse recommended videos after that. Sites that do a good job of recommending videos earn a lot more traffic.

Video search on connected TV platforms is more challenging, and Robertson said he hasn't seen a good TV search interface.

Panelist Thomas Dvorak, chief marketing officer for Aprico Solutions of the Netherlands, suggested that search wasn't appreciated in a TV interface. Search is active, he said, while TV viewers prefer recommendations, which are passive.

"TV is a completely different beast than PC," Dvorak said.

While Robertson suggested a voice search option for TV, Dvorak countered that people don't want to talk to their TVs. Recommendations for each family member might work, Dvorak said, but only if an included camera could tell family members apart.

Television search now relies on the electronic program guide (EPG), said Vanessa Vigar, who works in broadband solutions marketing for Irdeto. She emphasized that a TV search tool needed to be easy and thought that smartphone apps could eventually replace the remote control.

After surveying the audience and finding that many were at that moment using social networks on their smartphones and notebooks, Tom Weiss, CEO of TV Genius, said, "Social is what people are doing. Search is about finding something." He disagreed with Dvorak's assessment that TV viewers were passive, and noted that some shows, such as Lost, used social networking to keep viewers involved between shows and seasons.

Weiss pointed out that automated systems that analyze videos for search do a poor job of understanding their contents, whether they rely on text-to-speech or subtitles, and that human intervention is needed for correct categorization.

The only way to be assured views on TV, he pointed out, was to be listed at the top of the electronic program guide. For most video owners trying to reach connected TV viewers, sadly, that won't be possible.

Scroll down to view the entire session:

Search, Recommendation, and Discovery

Moderator: Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, Editor, Streaming Media
Thomas Dvorak, Chief Marketing Officer, APRICO Solutions
Mark Robertson, Founder, ReelSEO.com
Tom Weiss, CEO, TV Genius
Vanessa Vigar, Solution Marketing Manager - Broadband, Irdeto
2011 will be a year of experimentation for content owners as they seek new ways to engage websavvy viewers. The opportunity that social networks present is one involving interaction and engagement. People are used to receiving online recommendations on what they should buy, where they should eat, and who they should see in concert. The question is whether they will welcom the same interaction and recommendations with regards to what they watch on TV and other devices. Is search simple enough? This session w address how recommendation technologies can tap into social recommendations and the opportunities and pitfalls of transferring internet technologies to other devices.

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