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Auditude Fingerprints Everyone and Everything

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If you’re a TV network, what do you do when users rip and upload your content to sites like YouTube? You could:

a) Employ people to find such videos and send takedown notices.
b) Sue.
c) Send all your content in advance to YouTube and other fingerprinters so they can filter new uploads.

Yuck. Sounds like a bunch of work and no chance of a payoff. The best alternative is to discourage illicit uploads by making your own content readily available in a timely fashion through official means. And to be sure, just about all TV networks are at least starting to do that. Or you could accept that fan uploads are going to happen, and extend option c to let YouTube leave up the unauthorized uploads it finds, but sell advertising against them (yes, it’s being done).

But now there’s another option. It comes from startup Auditude, which is extending the advertising-against-uploaded-clips thing YouTube’s doing to multiple video sites across the web. The company doesn’t require that TV networks do any upfront work of submitting content that they claim. Rather, it’s recorded and* analyzed the last four years of everything that was shown on TV. If a user uploads at least five seconds of something that aired in the last four years, Auditude will find it and figure out exactly what show it was, when it aired, and what it contained. Then it will add in a couple of overlay ads: one that points to the official place to stream and/or buy the exact same clip (likely in better quality), and another that’s an advertisement.

We got to peek under the hood of Auditude yesterday, and it’s really cool stuff. Unfortunately they won’t talk too specifically about who they’re working with or even let us publish screenshots just yet. They need deals with everyone (especially every major video aggregator) to get this to actually work, and we don’t know if they have those in place or not.

CEO Adam Cahan joined Palo Alto, Calif.-based Auditude a year ago, when it was still based in L.A.. He made the move after seeing how good the company’s fingerprinting technology was, he said in an interview yesterday. Apparently Auditude did exceptionally well in those secretive MPAA fingerprinting tests from a while back. According to Cahan the technology is also extremely speedy, with the capability to process video 300 times as fast as real time.

Auditude has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Greylock Partners that’s said to be in the in the tens of millions. The previous incarnation had raised at least $1.1 million.

Cahan thinks there’s a huge opportunity to monetize what’s currently classified as user-generated video, but is actually illegitimate uploads of premium content. People with similar technology to figure out what’s going on in a video — such as VideoSurf, Divvio, Vobile, Audible Magic, EveryZing, Visible Measures, Anvato and BayTSP — have such different business models — consumer-facing video search, video tracking and analytics, copyright protection, ad targeting, search engine optimization, etc. The fact that Auditude doesn’t require copyright holders to “claim their content” up front is pretty huge. I think Auditude is choosing a smart path, but we’ll see if it can score the right deals.

*Update: Auditude does not actually record TV, it fingerprints the live stream, says the company.

8 Responses to “Auditude Fingerprints Everyone and Everything”

  1. Zero false positives my foot. Their technology can’t hit the side of a barnyard. You might want to check out the CEO’s past employment…sorry he a) and b) looked good to him

  2. So who pays them? It’s not like UGC video sites have monetization nailed. Nobody is getting paid until the content owners say it’s ok to host their stuff. Once that happens they’re going to want there stuff fingerprinted by the whole field.

  3. They claim zero false positives and showed me a report from the MPAA testing that put them out in front of everyone else. They also were able to ID some videos that seemed to have no quality user-inputted metadata whatsoever. But PowerPoint is PowerPoint and demos are canned. Still, I thought it looked good…hopefully it’ll be out publicly soon and you can judge too.

  4. Well, the proof is in the pudding.
    Liz, how good is their technology in detecting copyright infringement? i.e. how many false positives?
    Also, how did they get 4 years of TV content? Do they have a tie up with the networks?

    If its good, the model of detecting and attributing it to the owner is very powerful.