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.

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