Quick analysis of image and video search engines

by David Spark on May 1, 2007

I’ve been increasingly interested in the market for video and image search but since there have been so many players, I’ve never been quite clear as to who offers the best solution. My desire to test the engines came about after an interview with Chase Norlin, CEO of Pixsy, a company that has a white label image and video search tool.

I searched just two terms. “Zapruder,” the man who filmed the famous Kennedy assassination footage, and also “Lindsay Lohan” solely because Chase Norlin joked that’s all anybody wanted to watch on Pixsy. In general, the overwhelming majority of search results were valid except where noted.

Image Search

Site/ “Search Term”

“Zapruder”

“Lindsay Lohan”

Google

6,840

317,000

Yahoo

4,251

71,298

Picsearch

975

19,171

AltaVista

562

33,924

Pixsy

4 (only 2 were valid)

925

Video Search

Site/ “Search Term”

“Zapruder”

“Lindsay Lohan”

Google

227

15,876

Yahoo

169

1,236

Dabble

116

333

AOL/Truveo

94

1,629

Blinkx

55

7,000

Pixsy

50

90

Norlin appeared cavalier about how the public uses video search, saying, “Relevance doesn’t matter, it has to do with being entertained.” Not the smartest thing for a CEO of a search engine to be saying. I guess when you deliver such poor results compared to your competitors, you have to think of some defense to hide behind.

But Norlin may have some valid reasoning. Video is linear. It can’t be scanned like text results. Plus, often people look to video as entertainment, not necessarily for information like people do with text. On the other hand, if Norlin’s only basis for understanding the video search market is his own site’s statistics then he doesn’t have a clear picture. Of course people are going to watch the Lindsay Lohan video if that’s all you’re going to give them.

There’s so much to discuss in this space, but I just wanted to open up the discussion with an initial look at some search results.

What do you think? Do people search for video like they do text? What about when they search for pictures? Also, do you search for video and if you do what kinds of things are you looking for?

UPDATE: NewTeeVee has a review of some new video tools and the blog turned me on to a new video search player, Ulinkx, which has the same white labeled model as Pixsy, although they only offer video search and not image search. Still, only a year old, and they had mixed results for video search (“Zapruder” – 32, “Lindsay Lohan” – 1513).

UPDATE 2: Another interesting company, Vodium, has a B2B video publishing platform for businesses that want to record conferences, webcasts, and other kinds of discussions. The audio is translated to text and your personal database is indexable. This sounds really good, but my question is can they highlight certain valuable portions? That would be a great benefit. More information and an audio interview can be found here.

UPDATE 3 (5/17/07): Not a surprise, but Google will start now blending it’s video search results from YouTube and Google Video with video from other locations as well. But they will spotlight its own video prominently in search results causing most of us to want to post all our video content on either Google Video or YouTube.

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  • Karin Silverberg

    I’ve been following and using Pixsy for about the past sixth months, and I have to say, it’s very entertaining. True, at the moment, they may not have the largest index, but they appear to hit the mark on features, and useability. I’ve noticed that many other search engines entering into the market have copied their ideas. They get my thumbs up… KS

  • admin

    Karin, can you explain? There are so many video entertainment options out there that have simple usability. Do you think people are complaining about the lack of entertainment? What do you think are the features and usability that makes Pixsy so great?

  • http://www.ulinkx.com/ Saket Kumar

    Thanks for mentioning uLinkx. Just to let you know, we launched out video search in February’2007 only, earlier we were mainly doing video bookmarking. Our video index is growing rapidly and currently it stands over 3 million videos.

    To engage user, we provide top videos from major video sharing websites at one place. Our google gadget (Video Wall, http://www.ulinkx.com/help/video_wall ) is becoming very popular too.

    Please let us know your good/bad opinion/feedback.

    Thanks

  • 1000 max results

    I’ve never used Pixey, and this is my fist time reading your blog, but your “analysis” doesn’t mean anything.

    Google does a great job of letting people forget how small their result set is: Google only returns 1000 results for any given query. Not 10 or 20 Million. Not 1001. The same 1000, for anybody, anywhere.

    So even if they claim 317,000 results for “Lindsey Lohan”, you won’t be able to see 316,000 of them. Anything not top 1000 results for a term is invisible.

    I would rather have 90 good results than links to 300,000 google spam farms. SEOs have gamed page rank, and with it, Google. And we’re stuck with all the link spam.

  • zudo

    I’m very excited about ulinkx.In very short span of time ulinkx had made tremendous job.Since last month i am using this search engine i feel ulinkx is the right place you dont have to leave the ulinkx because this is the HUB were u can search video of many search engine.

  • admin

    Per the 1000 max limit, you are correct. And yes my quick analysis did not disclose Google’s 1000 limit. Thank you for doing that. But I will point out that there are 1000 valid image results with “Lindsay Lohan” and for the videos the strongest results go to about 300. But as we all know the second page of search results with any search tool rarely gets seen.

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  • http://www.richcontent.com Mark (Universal Search) Effinger

    Great Universal Search thumbnail, David.

    If you get a moment, also check out Marissa Mayer’s overview of Universal Search (http://revision3.com/gigaom/mmayer). It’s chock full of interesting tidbits.

    RichContent has been perfecting a media distribution platform focused on helping clients get the very best out of both Universal Search and traditional web search results.

    What we’ve learned is that by doing traditional “off the page” search optimization with all media types (Video, Images, Text, PR, Blog and Audio) you achieve very good Univerdsal Search results.

    Still a lot of work to do. And, as always, Google still dances. Often.

    But Universal Search has opened a wonderful world to companies willing to leverage their existing media assets… or develop some on a regular basis.

    Thanks again for the wrapup.
    Mark Alan Effinger
    http://www.RichContent.tv

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