Mammoth video portal to combat Google

AOL may have lost the text-search battle to Google, but it’s aiming to take the crown in video searching.

The Time Warner-owned portal is launching today a destination site for its video search engine Truveo. After spending years as a business that powers the backend of other video sites, Truveo will aim to attract consumer traffic — and advertising — through its own portal.

“We want to make it as easy to browse tens of millions of videos on the Web as it is to browse them in your own library,” said Truveo co-founder and AOL Video senior veep Timothy Tuttle.

As huge amounts of video content pour onto the Web, including user-generated content and professional clips from studios, networks and Web pure-plays, video search has been identified by many as an underserved market.

If Truveo succeeds, studios, networks and other content owners could see an increase in traffic and, possibly, advertising.

Truveo was founded in 2003 and acquired by AOL in 2006. Its technology is already used on AOL.com and numerous other sites, most notably MSN, and it is regarded as one of the leading video search engines.

But the site will face stiff competish from others, notably Google.

In addition, with AOL.com already using Truveo technology, execs said that customers searching AOL Video will turn up many of the same sites a Truveo search returns.

But the company said it will seek to keep the two separate, both to ensure that AOL Video is known as a site for more carefully selected premium video content and to keep Truveo from being associated with the less-hip AOL.

“AOL has a family of brands, including Mapquest and AIM. Truveo will be our Web-wide brand for pure video search,” Tuttle said. “This is a big growth market, and we hope to become as big in it as Google is in other types of search.”

Site is also launching at a time when congloms are battling with video sites over how much latitude those sites have in posting copyrighted material, which is regarded as the more desirable form of Web content.

As a search engine, Truveo is not likely to be held liable for pirated material; in fact, execs said, site could help congloms by serving as a beacon for legal content.

Tuttle said the search engine will use technology that will give legally sanctioned videos higher rankings than questionable ones.

Just as Google typically does with its search products, Truveo is launching with virtually no advertising. However, AOL is investing in video-search advertising in hopes of finding a format that works as well as Google’s keyword ads on text search.

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