RealTime IT News

Lycos Hopes Video Search Improves Its Relevance

Lycos is adding a new search capability that will allow users to search for video clips on the Web.

The software uses audio and contextual clues to generate more effective search results than other video search engines on the Web, explained Lycos COO Brian Kalinowski.

Kalinowski told internetnews.com that the video search offering fits into the company's overall strategy to capture a larger share of the 18- to 35-year-old demographic.

While that represents a broad swath of the population, he explained that Lycos is more interested in the online behavior of its users than how old they are.

"It's not so much a physical demographic as a psychographic demographic. These are the cutting edge adopters of broadband in the home," he told internetnews.com.

Lycos has been down this road before, however.

Kalinowski admitted that the company may have been overly ambitious when it launched Lycos TV and other streaming and audio programs in 1999.

"The infrastructure wasn't there to support mass distribution of these products," he said.

"We weren't wrong, we were just ahead of our time. Now, we're releasing a portal that can be technically adopted by most people."

But while the infrastructure is clearly there, Lycos could once again be ahead of its time.

JupiterKagan analyst David Card agreed that video consumption is dramatically on the rise, but said there's no indication that users actually search for videos online so much as stumble upon them.

But Kalinowski argued that various forms of video broadcasts are proliferating on the Web, driving users to behave differently.

"The audience is primed and ready for that," he said.

Lycos expects to monetize this offering with advertising dollars.

According to Kalinowski, Lycos is the world's 15th most-trafficked Web site, with two-thirds of its traffic coming from outside the United States.

Here in the U.S., it is the fifth most frequented Web site, with a little more than 23.6 million unique visitors per month, according to comScore Media Metrix.

That puts it ahead of Netscape, but well behind Yahoo , Microsoft's MSN , AOL  and MySpace .

Lycos may have to make do with the visitors they already have, at least in the short term, because it's not clear that video search will attract new ones.

"They're going to have to promote video to the people that are already on their site," noted Card.

The technology for this feature will be provided by blinkx, a San Francisco-based video search provider.

Suranga Chandratillake, founder of blinkx, described his company's search engine as a "phonetic contextual search engine."

The search algorithms take into account audio and the context of a given piece of content in addition to whatever tagging may be included.

Chandratillake explained that traditional search engines have done a poor job of searching video content because they are forced to rely on inconsistently-applied or inaccurate tagging.

"Video had been a side-feature for traditional search companies. That's why it hasn't been solved all that well," he told internetnews.com.