RealTime IT News

AOL Expands Search Net

The audio and video search engine unit of America Online has reeled in deals with several content providers, angling for position in the heated race to build the best video search engine.

The media conglomerate's audio and video search engine Singingfish, which was acquired by Time Warner in 2003, inked deals with 13 new partners, including CBSNews.com, CNN, Hollywood.com, IFILM, Like Television, ManiaTV.com and MarketWatch, allowing it to feature video content feeds for its properties.

"The different video genres that these partners represent -- from entertainment, news and sports to education, films and animation -- add even greater depth and variety to our ever-increasing index, helping us to deliver more meaningful and relevant search results," Karen Howe, vice president and general manager of Singingfish, said in a statement.

Singingfish, one of the Web's original players in the multimedia search engine game, has recently faced increased pressure from multimedia search engines, such as Yahoo, Google and Blinkx, which have continued to ramp up their video search presence.

However, AOL says there are still huge opportunities for growth in both audience and advertising with increasing and improving video content.

"Consumer research tells us that making favorite videos more easily discoverable is a top factor in growing audience and increasing the amount of time people spend watching video online," Kevin Conroy, executive vice president and COO of AOL Media Networks, said. "That's why as a top priority we're adding more high-quality video programming to our video search capabilities and showcasing video across the AOL network."

The Singingfish video and audio search engine already has millions of multimedia files available on the Web in categories ranging from entertainment to finance, according to the company.

The new partners will join MSNBC, NPR, Reuters and other producers of video and audio content on Singingfish's network, according to the company.

"With the growing amount of video content available freely on the Web, consumers rely daily on our leading Singingfish search platform to discover new and interesting content," Howe said.

Singingfish handles more than 200 million video and audio searches each month across its network and has experienced 100 percent growth over the past year, the company said.

"We see huge opportunities for growth in audience, engagement and advertising by making video a powerful and natural part of our content efforts," Conroy said. "By building on the foundation of our Singingfish search technology along with our own ever-growing video catalog, AOL will set a standard with a superior multimedia experience."

In another move likely designed to bolster AOL's sagging online ad revenues, the company said it would soon launch a free Web portal, a departure from its fee-based subscription model.