AOL acquired video search engine Truveo in January, 2006 and has used it primarily as a technology platform to power AOL video since that time. Simultaneously, the company has been supporting video search on third party sites. (See our previous coverage.) You could do video searches on Truveo.com but it wasn’t really presented as a consumer destination – until now.
Last night, Truveo relaunched as a consumer video search destination. Emphasizing branded content (including branded channels), it may be the most comprehensive video search site on the Internet. The site also has a host of personalization and social media features (user favorites, what’s hot, etc.). Truveo CEO Tim Tuttle contrasts the site with YouTube (which is also indexed on Truveo) as a place where branded content is presented in an environment that is favorable and friendly to professional content producers.
Tuttle also says that the organization and presentation of content on Truveo avoids the “noise” that one finds on many video sites and thus enables people to get to the videos they may want faster. For example, a search for “Harry Potter” on YouTube might yield scores of videos and montages put together by fans mixed with content from professional producers. Truveo calls out the professional content, while also presenting the fan content. Compare YouTube and Truveo search results for “Harry Potter.” Many people will watch and enjoy the fan videos, while others just want to see the professional clip or interview.
Arguably Truveo overwhelms users with too much content and too many choices, but there will be refinements over time as users interact with it. The single biggest drawback to the site (esp. vs. YouTube) is the fact that many (though not all) of Truveo’s content partners contractually require that videos be served on their sites rather than on Truveo. Consequently a pop-up appears and you watch the desired video (and pre-rolls ads) on the partner sites (about 50% of the time in my quick testing). That creates a variable experience, which YouTube avoids by having everything play in a single, uniform player on its site. However, YouTube no longer legally offers some of the branded content (e.g., The Daily Show) that helped boost it to its market-leading position. (Although those verboten clips are constantly reintroduced by fans.)
Tuttle acknowledges this user-experience limitation and believes that more content sites and producers will allow videos to play on destination sites/video search engines like Truveo over time because it’s a better user experience.