Why Video Search Is the New Iron Throne (Guest Blog)

Google and Siri dominate text- and voice-based search, but no one owns their video equivalent — yet

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Contributed By LEKLast week in our first post on video search, we talked about the value of owning the customer search process. We also talked about the coming fight to dominate video search.

Search is not new. Fights to dominate search are not new either; we search for any number of things every day. Behind the scenes are companies fighting minute to minute to host our next search.

The most common search mechanism is, of course, text-based search, and Google is the main game in town, owning 55 percent of global search advertising revenues. Voice-based search is still emerging and for now is a much more competitive space. Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), Cortana (Microsoft) and Google Now are all making a play to win in this space.

However, look at video search. No one controls video search. And not only does no one control it, but there is virtually no one even doing next-gen video search today.

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Let us explain what we mean by “no one.” Let’s say you’re using your Xfinity (or similar) service today. Everyone knows how to search the Xfinity platform for content. Your search will yield linear channel results as well as on-demand results. But pay TV subscriptions today account for roughly 75 percent of video consumption (and that share is shrinking steadily). That’s because the libraries on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are enormous and offer a ton of value. Add in the dozens of options in the “digiverse” for all kinds of other content and it’s no mystery why people need a next-gen search tool to cover all the bases.

But it turns out that video search is pretty complicated. Current search engines struggle with even the basics of real-world consumer needs. But go a level deeper and the challenge becomes really hard.

For example, say you want to find a movie that features something in particular, like a car-chase or a treasure hunt. Finding such a movie is a challenge. Type “car chase” into your video service search bar and you’re likely to get results all over the place. We’ve done this ourselves, and we have found things like “Car Chasers” (a TV show about buying cars) instead of useful hits like “The French Connection,” “Bullet,” “Vanishing Point” and other classic car chase movies. We even got a link to a video on Chase Utley, the second baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Or imagine you have a kid who’s frightened by violent animals. Being the caring parent you are, you take pains to avoid violent animals on the screen. But few if any services let you filter out violent animals.

Some startups, like the Video Genome Project are making video search easier, but they’re not here yet. Nevertheless, the big TV conglomerates should beware.

Next week, we’ll address the potential value of the video search product.

This is Part 2 in a series on video search by Dan Schechter, Gil Moran and Francesco Di Ianni from L.E.K. Consulting’s Media & Entertainment practice.