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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Google Video Ranking

Now the blogdust has settled on Google Video (yes, I think they should’ve named this “Google TV” or “Google Closed Captioning” judging from what it does right now), let’s ask a new question: how does Google Video decide which shows are most relevant to the search query? In a normal web environmnent, on-page optimization counts for next to nothing – it’s all about incoming links from the outside.

On TV however, there are no links. I’m assuming what Google does is check for basic “on-show” factors such as (most importantly) the word frequency. When I entered “google” into the Google Video search, I got the recent 60 Minutes report – arguably, the most relevant piece at the moment. Another critical relevancy factor would be freshness (the older the TV show, the lower it will rank in results). I suppose the current Google Video ranking is determined by those two factors.

Additionally, there’s an offbeat chance specific TV shows receive something close to the PageRank model for web pages. It would be a “ShowRank.” Then again this would put Google into a position where it had to make human judgments, an approach they rarely go for.
Other ranking mechanisms could include the ratings for the show. Also, you could check how often a segment is repeated (this would point at it being quoted by other channels, or teased on the same channel).

I wonder if Google Video will become popular and reach a critical mass one day (maybe, it could be integrated into the normal web search results, similar to what is happening with Google News articles). Would we see Search Engine Optimization extend its reach to cover TV as well – TV-SEO? Think of it; show hosts would be made to repeat certain hot words so their coverage gets a top spot on Google. And I’m certain the earliest and most aggressive takers would be advertising segments between the TV shows. (Yes, Google Video indexes those too; just search for words like “free” or “call now” to get an idea.)

But why stop there. What I’m seeing in the future are personalized TV programs, in the sense that when you come home after work you enter your favorite topics (“Search Engines”, “George W. Bush date:today”, “title:daily-show” etc.) to playback your specific program. Instead of limiting your results to a number of pages, you ask for a time span; 15 minutes, an hour, and so on. It would be a ranked “TV search result” to close off your day. Add some general breaking news to the mix, and it would create a perfect push & pull balance for information junkies.


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