June 25, 2019

The History of Video Search

Chances are, you’ve never heard of a band called Severe Tire Damage. As a rock act, the band was a mere blip on the musical radar, existing for only six years and producing only two albums before disappearing into obscurity.

However, music wasn’t destined to be Severe Tire Damage’s historical claim to fame. Instead, the band will forever be known as the subjects of the Internet’s very first live-streamed video. On June 24, 1993, the band happened to be playing a gig in the same building where scientists were experimenting with new Internet broadcasting technology. The researchers used the band’s performance to test and prove their work, and made history in the process.

The rise of online video

Online video has come a long way since 1993. Improved Internet access, the rise of social media, and the demise of video stores contributed to the video-viewing phenomenon, which today has gone viral. Just check out these recent stunning statistics from Wordstream:

  • One-third of online activity is spent watching video.
  • 85 percent of the US internet audience watches videos online.
  • Every second, a million minutes (17,000 hours) of video content will cross global IP networks by 2021, according to Cisco (via Forbes).
  • More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years.

Before YouTube was introduced in 2005 as one of the first video streaming platforms, online video was largely shared via email. Today, however, as these statistics indicate, video is everywhere. And although YouTube attracts over 1.9 billion viewers each month, it’s not the only place where videos are streaming online. Not even close.

There are dozens of video hosting platforms online today that, like YouTube, allow users to upload, share, or stream video. Dailymotion, Vimeo, Twitch, Metacafe, and Bitchute are just a few YouTube alternatives that collectively host more than hundreds of millions of videos.

A large percentage of content posted to social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram is in video form. In fact, subscribers are 1200 percent more likely to share a video posted on social media over a text or photo post.

If that wasn’t enough, think about the videos you see as you go about your daily business on the web. Video ads, news footage, how-to clips, movie trailers, music videos, television shows, promotional clips — all of this video footage is online for you to find.

Finding a video online

When you want to search for a certain video on YouTube, you use the channel’s built-in search tool. But what about all of those other videos that are out there on the Internet? How do you find those?

You actually have multiple options when it comes to searching for video online — and some are much better than others. You could always turn to Google and type in “video” along with your preferred topic, title, subject, genre, or other search criteria. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that Google owns YouTube, so odds are pretty good that the bulk of your first-page search results on Google will be YouTube videos.

Another problem with using a traditional one-size-fits-all search engine to find video content is that you’re only going to be served results that have been indexed by that particular search engine. Just like YouTube isn’t the only video provider on the Internet, Google isn’t the only search engine. Others, including Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and AOL still curate unique content that you may not find on Google.

The best way to search for a video online is to use a video metasearch engine. “Metasearch” simply means that the search engine is combing through results from multiple resources and search engines to produce the most relevant results for your query. Our video search engine, Petey Vid, pulls video results from over 100 platforms in response to your request, and allows you to narrow your search using advanced options like video length, date published, and even social media hashtags and mentions.

Searching for videos online is simpler than ever before, which is great, because video search can get pretty complicated.

Most Internet users today have a basic understanding of how a traditional search engine works. You type in a word or phrase and the search engine finds webpages or other content where those words or phrases are used in the text. Of course, there’s an ever-changing “secret sauce” that dictates which of these pages will appear at the top, but your results are sure to feature the words or phrases you’ve typed in.

Video search is different. In a video, there are no “words” for a search engine to evaluate. The only true text a search engine can go by is what the creator of the video, or the person who uploaded it, types into the title and description fields. If a video of a toddler cursing or a skateboarder nailing an epic flip is titled something like, “Watch this awesome video” or “SOOOO funny,” it’s probably not going to show up in a search for skateboard tricks or funny babies.

In the earliest days of video search, this creator-submitted information — called “metadata” —  was all that a traditional search engine could use to index and use to help you find the video you were looking for. Of course, information about the date the video was uploaded, where it came from, and other analytical data was automatically embedded and could be used to find a video, but this information simply wasn’t as useful to viewers.

Some video creators, however, included closed-captioning text, or written transcripts, when they uploaded their video. This was a boon for video search, as it allowed search engines to review the entire dialogue and even actions within the clip, then index for those. Again, though, not all creators or uploaders went to the trouble to provide this additional step. And how much text is there to actually transcribe in a cat video?

In the mid-2000s, video search engines began using speech recognition technology to digitally and automatically transcribe the words within videos. At the same time, YouTube launched its simple-to-use service and quickly became the behemoth video platform most people defaulted to when searching for a video.

Even in light of YouTube, however, there was still demand for dedicated video search engines that performed meta searches of all platforms. In 2012, Mashable predicted the “future” of video search would include services like these that would eventually recognize and index objects and public figures within videos. Indeed, facial recognition technology is in use today within a wide range of applications, so why not video?

Video search technology has also matured to the point that it can detect sentiments and emotions (happy, funny, sad, dramatic), reaction sounds (clapping, gasps, laughter) or the lack of sound, explicit language, brand mentions, and much, much more. With these tools, finding a video with the search terms “funny video with Snoop Dogg making brownies” is easier and more accurate than ever.

One of the most intriguing developments in video search is the ability to search videos using #hashtags. Hashtags made their first appearance on Twitter in 2007 as a way to categorize groups (#barcamp is the first recognized hashtag). The symbol caught on as a quick and efficient way to call out sentiments, events, genres, themes like #ThrowbackThursday, and movements such as 2018’s #MeToo. Because hashtag usage is universal across all types of media, using hashtags to search for videos just makes sense. Petey Vid’s video search engine includes a powerful hashtag search option, and features an ever-updating selection of the top trending hashtags for quick reference.

The value of metasearch

Despite these advances in video search, traditional search engines inevitably limit the depth and breadth of results you’ll receive when searching for a video that is not on YouTube. Even in the earliest days of video search, experts recommended and lauded dedicated video search engines as the best way to find any video, by any author, on any platform across the web. With the sheer volume of non-YouTube video on the web today, it makes sense to use a tool that will immediately and accurately identify the exact video you want to see.

Video metasearch has been in existence since the earliest days of online video, but many of the original players have been acquired or simply went out of business. Some of the most promising and highly touted video search engine companies like Singingfish, Altavista Video, Tagoo, Bing Video, and Yahoo Screen are now defunct, while others like Blinkx and Truveo have been absorbed into larger media providers.

Petey Vid is a relatively new entrant into the video search engine world, differentiating ourselves from these failed enterprises and today’s massive media conglomerates by providing a simple, helpful, and private search option to users.  We do not collect IP addresses or search histories from our users, so no one needs to worry about annoying ads following them across the web.

Overall, our video search engine offers a wealth of results without a lot of work. “Internet users deserve the most diverse search experience possible,” our creator Craig J. Stadler told AllTopStartups. “We want to provide users with something different, a more level playing field that’s more diverse.”