Video Essentials

What Works in Online Video Search? What Works on Connected TVs?

You can put your videos on your website and you can enable your videos for connected TVs, but what makes them succeed on either platform is vastly different.

At a Streaming Media Europe panel discussion, experts from the video search world gave tips on what works and what doesn’t. Mark Robertson, publisher of, started things off with Brightcove/Tubemogul research showing that video referrals are up from Google, but down from social site Facebook. Facebook referrals were more valuable, however, as visitors who followed a Facebook referral watched for far longer.

Robertson and Dvorak

Google and Bing are both now looking to Facebook and Twitter when creating their search rankings. How much your videos are tweeted and liked will influence how they come up in search.

“Social is crucial for search discovery,” Robertson said.

Robertson encouraged sites to make browsing easy for viewers. People might do a search to find a particular video, he said, but will browse recommended videos after that. Sites that do a good job of recommending videos earn a lot more traffic.

Video search on connected TV platforms is more challenging, and Robertson said he hasn’t seen a good TV search interface.

Panelist Thomas Dvorak, chief marketing officer for Aprico Solutions of the Netherlands, suggested that search wasn’t appreciated in a TV interface. Search is active, he said, while TV viewers prefer recommendations, which are passive.

“TV is a completely different beast than PC,” Dvorak said.

While Robertson suggested a voice search option for TV, Dvorak countered that people don’t want to talk to their TVs. Recommendations for each family member might work, Dvorak said, but only if an included camera could tell family members apart.

Television search now relies on the electronic program guide (EPG), said Vanessa Vigar, who works in broadband solutions marketing for Irdeto. She emphasized that a TV search tool needed to be easy and thought that smartphone apps could eventually replace the remote control.

After surveying the audience and finding that many were at that moment using social networks on their smartphones and notebooks, Tom Weiss, CEO of TV Genius, said, “Social is what people are doing. Search is about finding something.” He disagreed with Dvorak’s assessment that TV viewers were passive, and noted that some shows, such as Lost, used social networking to keep viewers involved between shows and seasons.

Weiss pointed out that automated systems that analyze videos for search do a poor job of understanding their contents, whether they rely on text-to-speech or subtitles, and that human intervention is needed for correct categorization.

The only way to be assured views on TV, he pointed out, was to be listed at the top of the electronic program guide. For most video owners trying to reach connected TV viewers, sadly, that won’t be possible.

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  1. Referrals up from Google, but Facebook leads to longer watching.

    This may be evidence that people don’t find as many recommendations from Facebook, but when they do they are of higher quality and hence lead to longer viewing.

    It sounds like people are searching on Google, because that’s how they are used to searching, but the results are not very relevant. Facebook recommendations are presumably made by friends and therefore more reliable.

    What consumers are really looking for is highly accurate & personalized results. Results based on deep understanding of both the content and the user’s individual taste. This can be found at

    Posted by Nikki Ralston | October 23, 2011, 7:22 am
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