Behold — we had five questions for MeFeedia CEO Frank Sinton, and in return he had five answers! A search engine that helps users find web video, MeFeedia also owns and operates the video platform All Player. Sinton also blogs occasionally about his iPad and baseball. Below, he talks about the value of SEO in the digital landscape, the need for standardized metrics and how he’s been sharing videos with his kids recently.
1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?
One big issue is a set of standard metrics for the industry. What constitutes a view? How is a video ad impression counted? We need a way to easily gauge and compare from one video site to the next, from one video ad network to the next so that advertisers know what they are getting and publishers with deep engagement reap more rewards.
Currently, HTML5 is moving the industry in the right direction… (it) enables a transparent, standards-based measurement system that still allows each publisher to customize the player’s user interface. However, it is only one piece to the metrics puzzle and is still a work-in-progress. I expect there to be a lot more movement in this area going forward.
2. What industry buzzword do you never want to hear again?
Buzzwords are a necessary way to categorize and think about new concepts. I try not to think about it too much as it is easy to get caught up on the buzzwords and lose focus on what is really important to your users.
Right now, “SEO is dead” — I could do without hearing that again. People will need search more in the future, not less. Without SEO, search would probably be much worse than it is today. Really, it’s bigger than search — Information Retrieval is still in its infancy.
3. If someone gave you $50 million to invest in a company in this space, which one would it be? (Mentioning your own doesn’t count.)
I would be looking at the team a company had and how well their ideas are executed – I think that matters more than growth nowadays.
In the video space, there are so many up and coming stars I couldn’t list them all: Vimeo, Boxee, Blip.tv, Clicker, Videosurf, Vodpod, Roku, Hulu and, of course, Apple TV and Google TV. All will continue to accelerate innovation for the industry.
But if I had to choose one, it would probably be a company that was not only opening doors for web video, but also helping existing enterprises transform into this new era of always-connected, real-time media. Clearleap is a good example — they are opening it up on both ends, helping web video publishers get to the TV screen while giving the cable industry a better way to deliver to more places seamlessly.
4. What was the last video (that you weren’t personally involved with) that you liked enough to spread to others?
Every day, I share videos (it is one of my favorite parts of the job, honestly). Lately, I have been “real-world” sharing a lot, passing around the family iPad to watch videos — the Dancing Merengue Dog was a recent one that my kids enjoyed.
5. WILD-CARD: One of MeFeedia’s features is a social network that allows users to share videos with each other — however, looking at the MeFeedia leaderboard, it doesn’t appear to be very active. How key do you think the social aspect is to MeFeedia as a site — and to search engines in general?
MeFeedia’s focus has been connecting users to video content -– fast. Improving the viewing experience, which included de-cluttering, removing ads, and making mefeedia.com the fastest loading video site possible, has been a main focus over the past 12 months. All of our user engagement metrics are way up. Features like the leaderboard are experiments to find better ways to surface content and measure network effect rather than a core component –- only a small proportion of our resources have been invested in that area so far (enough to save your choices and find them again, as well as make a few friends).
The way we see it, the video is the most important part on a video site. The main social aspects of MeFeedia are people adding videos they want to see and sharing on other sites (like Reddit, Facebook, Stumbleupon, and Twitter). The focus on viewing experience and enabling sharing on existing social sites appears to be working — people are watching more and sharing much more (even with fewer features).
How social affects search engines: Within search, there is indexing, sorting and delivery. Social sites and social data play important roles in all of those aspects.
The most noticeable change from ‘social’ is the sheer pace of content production. Take for a moment YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Imagine indexing just those 3 sites. That takes intense resources and skills. To me, that is the biggest effect of social on search — explosive growth of content. In a moment, the “social web” can change and search engines have to reflect that.
Social has been a part of finding content for a long time, such as via the “water cooler” conversation before the web ever existed. Likewise, social data is important to video search. Social data provides clues for ranking and can help users find new videos. If online video is ever going to scale to the daily viewing times of TV (i.e. hours a day, not minutes), information retrieval must go much further than social recommendations. That is where search tools come into play – it unlocks the incredible amount of content available online today. We are just at the beginnings of informational retrieval and I expect a lot more innovation around this area in the future.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): The State of Social TV