Search engines catering to targeted niches are gaining in popularity. Most of them add a social interaction element, like sharing, embedding, and voting to keep their visitors longer on the site, and to “force” user profiling. It’s a smart approach to search, in an industry dominated by Google. As far as video search is concerned, we already know that Google has its paws deep into the niche, with YouTube being the undisputed sovereign of the industry.
But, does this mean that there is no room for other video search engines? Hardly. In fact, there are so many, that attempting to make a complete list would be a challenging task. So instead of such a list, let’s look at just two promising video search engines that each bring a new, and innovative element to the industry.
PopScreen Detects Trending Videos and Predicts What’s Going Viral
PopScreen is a video discovery and organization service, an aggregator if you want, that grabs video content from all over the web. The site is akin to the likes of FriendFeed, with the difference being, you can de facto organize your videos into playlists, and play them with a nifty integrated player.
You can search PopScreens own database of aggregated content for new videos to “POP”, import videos from your YouTube account (or from any other video sharing website), add videos to your PopScreen library via url or embed code, and even bookmark videos while you browse. The tool provided by PopScreen for the purpose is a drag-and-drop bookmarklet that sticks to the bookmarks bar in your browser and lets you save content on the go.
So, let’s say you discover a video on a site where you don’t have an account. Then all you have to do is to “POP IT” – click on the bookmarklet to save the video to your PopScreen account, in the corresponding playlist. Moreover, if you want to share the video you can, without having to browse back and forth. The bookmarklet lets you post updates to Twitter, Facebook, Digg and so on. It may sound like something complex, but I assure you it is not. PopScreen is extremely clean, and the UI is discoverable, and user friendly.
Yet aggregating content is not PopScreen’s main forte. What users cannot see yet is a feature that will practically predict the future. Soon to be released, PopScreen’s proprietary algorithm, PopScore, has the ability to detect trending videos and forecast what’s going to be popular in the near future. This is not a YouTube-most-popular kind of feature, but something more complex that has huge potential for video advertisers.
Right now PopScreen monitors over 10000 sources of video content, including blogs, news outlets, directories, online portals, and many more; and indexes 20,000-25,000 videos daily. When PopScore goes live (a matter of days), then PopScreen will feature on its homepage a number of videos the algorithm deems potentially viral video sensations. If its forecasting proves accurate, then PopScreen will make history.
Jinni Is an Online Movie ‘Taste Engine’
Jinni, defines itself as the first “Taste Engine” – a video search engine powered by semantic search technology and taste profiling. When searching with Jinni, your browsing data is aggregated, and results are served based on personalized recommendations. These recommendations are made possible by the core of the engine – the Movie Genome (created by movie professionals) that contains several thousand “genes” assigned to each title to describe plot, mood, style, setting, soundtrack and more – a rich alternative to the usual genre language.
Unlike PoPScreen, which is a fresh beta startup, Jinni is already a longstanding beta veteran, with a strong community and a few awards under its belt. Jinni’s niche is not as broad as PoPScreen’s, that will aggregate everything you want as long as it is video content. Jinni is about movies and TV shows, and finding/recommending what you like.
Let’s say you want to watch a movie starring Jeff Bridges. You type in your search term, and Jinni comes up with several results – all relevant (it is that refined). You click on your favorite and Jinni takes you to a place where you can read movie reviews and find how to watch it – either by renting it from Netflix, buying from Amazon, finding you a legal download stream or finding you a place where you could watch it for free (like Hulu, for example).
Both search engines bring important innovation to the online video market, and from this perspective alone, they are worthy of attention. Jinni found a strict niche, yet a niche with limitless possibilities. The company already has some strong partners like SeaChange, NDS and OpenTV, and the cable operators are watching it closely. The question is, who else is watching? Jinni would make a great acquisition for the likes of Hulu and Netflix. Even Amazon could use the algorithm to help its customers find more relevant video content. If you had to bet, what would your bet be: who is going to buy Jinni, and why?
As for PopScreen, it does not take much imagination to put its potential in perspective. A video aggregator is not such a big deal, no matter how nice, but a video prediction engine? That’s another story.