Looking to add to its search features and perhaps expand into the search engine world dominated by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, AOL announced today its acquisition of Seattle-based Singingfish, Inc., the audio and video search engine. Singingfish’s products include the largest index of streaming media content. They complement the integrated AOL Search features available on the AOL service and advance the search capabilities of the AOL for Broadband service.
The amount of audio and video content online is exploding, with streaming media growing an estimated tenfold every six months. The number of people who watch or listen online also has grown substantially. About 50 million Americans report using Internet audio or video in the previous month, according to a July 2003 Arbitron survey.
AOL has also enhanced its Local Search Function with “In Your Area”, a feature built upon AOL’s extensive local services for business listings, entertainment and events. The new feature lets members search for localized results in cities where they live, work and travel across the United States. AOL members can simply type in search queries such as, “restaurants,” “plumbers” or a specific movie title and find relevant listings near their location indicated by zip code.
Online searching with a local intent is on the rise, as more and more people turn first to the Internet to find the information they need. Nearly half of AOL members who sign on in a given month use local content, and having local information at their fingertips is one of their top requests. “In Your Area” Search builds on the growing popularity of the AOL Yellow Pages service, which has seen usage increase 180% in the last year.
Google and Overture recently made news by introducing their own versions of Local Search. Local Search is seen to have a huge advertising potential while either blending with or killing the Internet Yellow Pages market.
“With the millions upon millions of Web sites and the wide variety of content available online today, consumers have become more savvy searchers. As a result, they need sophisticated tools to help them easily find exactly what they’re looking for online,” said Jim Riesenbach, Senior Vice President, AOL Search and Directional Media Group. “By introducing enhanced local search and audio/video search, AOL is now offering the most comprehensive suite of search offerings, providing our members with the industry’s richest array of search functionality.”