Veoh is mounting its pitch to be a video discovery tool for the web with the release today of its Veoh Video Compass, a plug-in that surfaces relevant videos as users navigate other web sites. What’s interesting is how radically different offering this tool is from Veoh’s original task of being a video portal — the Compass operates completely off of Veoh’s web site, and it brings in videos hosted by competitor sites, not just Veoh.
The Compass is kind of a combo of recent video plug-ins from Cooliris, RealPlayer (s RNWK), StumbleUpon and VodPod, though I totally understand and respect if you’ve never heard of any of those. (Well, except RealPlayer, but this is their new stuff, not the old ubiquitous and yucky software. And the new stuff? You probably haven’t heard of.) When you enter a term on a search page, say Google, the Compass pops up at the top of the page as a scroll bar of videos with that keyword or ones similar to it as determined by related searches on Veoh. And in a soon-to-be-added feature, when you’re on a regular page that has a video, the Compass pops up a tab next to a video offering the option to watch related videos, add the video to a playlist, and then download videos to your desktop. These are some cool ideas, but I haven’t yet played with Compass enough to see if they’re executed in a non-kludgy way.
Veoh already has had some success with getting people to download its software; founder Dmitry Shapiro tells us the company sees 30,000 daily installations of its Veoh Player, which aids users in watching longer and higher-quality video than on its site.
Despite significant traffic, Veoh has long struggled to differentiate itself. But with early funders such as Michael Eisner, it has always had friends in high places, and this summer it raised $30 million from investors including Intel (s INTC) and Adobe (s ADBE). On the other hand, like every other video startup, Veoh also recently made layoffs. And the video search and discovery space is not exactly empty; strengthening players include Mefeedia, Taboola and OVGuide.
Disclosure: We use VodPod on this site. We also share an investor, True Ventures, with the company.