StumbleUpon Wants to Be the Pandora of Web Video

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StumbleUpon is trying hard to become the best way for users to find relevant and interesting videos online. With the addition of more full-length video content available through its StumbleUpon Video site, it could do just that, by becoming a recommendation engine for online video.

“I’ve never had a very good experience watching TV. It never learned what I like,” StumbleUpon founder and CEO Garrett Camp said in a phone interview. The problem is that TV and most video sites on the web today are more or less a one-way experience: you go to a site, you find what you want to watch, and you leave. Once you’ve found something that interests you, you spend time with it. If you don’t have something of interest to replace it with, you click away.

StumbleUpon hopes to remedy that situation with a recommendation engine that offers up a steady stream of videos that users find interesting. Using an algorithm that takes into account your past interactions, community feedback and input from users that you like and follow, StumbleUpon is betting that it can provide a more compelling video experience online than one could find by turning on the TV or just going to one of the network video sites like ABC.com or CBS.com.

The idea that StumbleUpon is going to be a landing page for online videos might be a turn-off for some publishers; after all, most hope to keep users engaged and keep them on-site as long as possible, thereby increasing the number of in-stream and display ads they can serve. StumbleUpon’s pitch is that it doesn’t change anything in the embedded video stream, so partners can serve up whatever ads they want. Besides, viewers may come across a video recommended by their friends — or by the community — they might not have seen otherwise.

It’s not just short-form and user-generated video snacking that StumbleUpon hopes to enable; in addition to sites like YouTube, Vimeo and Metacafe, StumbleUpon has added videos from Hulu and TED to its database. As a result, users will now have more long-form videos recommended to them. That’s good news for users, but really good news for StumbleUpon, since the biggest thing missing today as a really killer video recommendation engine for all the web content out there.

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