Last week, multimedia search startup Pluggd launched a public demo of its SeeHere search technology, which uses voice recognition and natural-language mapping to help you to drill down into specific sections of a clip. SeeHere’s color-coded “heat map” suggests points in the video that you might find relevant, “chunking” larger segments where related topics are discussed as part of a conversation or sequence.
Unlike text blogs, there’s no way to scan a video clip quickly. Sometimes what you’re looking for is at the beginning, sometimes at the end, and usually somewhere in between. This isn’t a big deal for bite-sized clips, but anything longer-format, especially news and talk shows, makes hunting down just the info you need a maddeningly slow process — and users often bail on a clip if they don’t find what they want right away. Pluggd claims it has increased the length of time users spend on CNET, suggesting that finding precisely what you’re looking for actually holds your interest.
While the technology isn’t perfect, as Liz pointed out after seeing a preview at the DEMO conference — back when Pluggd was focused on podcasts — it’s definitely a step in the right direction towards improving the video search user experience. But at this point, Pluggd needs to be more than a pretty interface and a pretty good search tool, and find a way to capitalize on its technology.
Over coffee in Seattle’s Pioneer Square with Pluggd CEO Alexander Castro, I was shown a mockup of the company’s ad targetting functionality. Using the same core technology for parsing key terms from audio and text, the company can also dynamically place clickable ad banners over video that appear when someone’s talking about a particular product or service. “That ad unit seems to be getting some legs, because nobody likes pre-rolls,” said Castro. An example screenshot can be seen below. It’s quite similar to the units that VideoEgg, ScanScout, and YouTube are also selling or starting to sell.
Pluggd’s plan for search is to continue to sign up partners with lots of content, starting with CNET and moving to more and more content producers and video-sharing sites, building the company’s “meta index” along the way. Since Pluggd doesn’t have to store the video after analyzing the audio, scalability in terms of processing and storage isn’t too high a hurdle, Castro assured. He said he doesn’t want to set up an ad network to broker in-stream ads, but rather help customers better select relevant ads from brokers like DoubleClick.
Castro said Pluggd, which previously raised $1.65 million, will soon formally announce it has received Series A funding. He had said the same thing when Liz saw him at the Under the Radar conference in June.