InfoTalk Podcast: Multimedia Search with Yahoo’s Jeff Karnes

WARNING: EXPLICIT SEARCH CONCEPTS.  PodTech has a multimedia search infoTalk podcast with Jeff Karnes on multimedia search. 

The podcast is here  

Full Transcript:

Guest:  Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Host:  John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
So what is happening?  There is a lot of great stuff happening.  There is a huge tsunami of new content coming on the web.  Obviously blogs have been around for a while with text and web pages, but now with user generated content there is a lot of video, audio, it is really easy to produce.  What is going on with this multimedia area and what’s Yahoo doing and how do you look at that?

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
I think one thing is that multimedia is on the web.  I think that from a consumer level it is just getting its legs back underneath it.  I think in the late 1990’s there were attempts by companies, like companies I worked for Virage and other folks that were taking multimedia and merging it with the web phenomenon at that point and trying to bring it to the consumer either directly or through corporations.  I think one of the things that we are seeing today, is that there is an infrastructure in broadband.  Even though the tech bubble went through the downturn, broadband kept going and in fact this year is the first time that broadband, here in the United States, where broadband subscribers now outpacing dial up subscribers.  It is happening globally as well.  So whether you look at Europe or Asia, broadband as an infrastructure has certainly grown, so I think you’ve seen that as a key influencer in terms of how people consume this (multimedia).  And you’ve seen this with the amount of content coming online; not just video and audio, but images as well.  So folks are consuming more and more of this (multimedia) on a daily basis.  The second piece that has happened from a product perspective is the production costs and the barriers to entry have dramatically lowered.  So as folks, weather they look at using consumer tools, editing tools, putting content online and using the internet as a distribution vehicle, has become fairly robust and easy to do.  It has opened up a huge distribution channel for multimedia.  And that combined with broadband and folks like Yahoo making that searchable, making that discoverable by the user base I think has contributed to the ecosystem.

I think one thing is that multimedia is on the web.  I think that from a consumer level it is just getting its legs back underneath it.  I think in the late 1990’s there were attempts by companies, like companies I worked for Virage and other folks that were taking multimedia and merging it with the web phenomenon at that point and trying to bring it to the consumer either directly or through corporations.  I think one of the things that we are seeing today, is that there is an infrastructure in broadband.  Even though the tech bubble went through the downturn, broadband kept going and in fact this year is the first time that broadband, here in the United States, where broadband subscribers now outpacing dial up subscribers.  It is happening globally as well.  So whether you look at Europe or Asia, broadband as an infrastructure has certainly grown, so I think you’ve seen that as a key influencer in terms of how people consume this (multimedia).  And you’ve seen this with the amount of content coming online; not just video and audio, but images as well.  So folks are consuming more and more of this (multimedia) on a daily basis.  The second piece that has happened from a product perspective is the production costs and the barriers to entry have dramatically lowered.  So as folks, weather they look at using consumer tools, editing tools, putting content online and using the internet as a distribution vehicle, has become fairly robust and easy to do.  It has opened up a huge distribution channel for multimedia.  And that combined with broadband and folks like Yahoo making that searchable, making that discoverable by the user base I think has contributed to the ecosystem.John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
This environment is changing.  It’s changing Yahoo and all the search engine…I mean they’ve got to deal with this new media.  New formats are coming in; you mentioned broadband and the ease of publishing.  How are you guys handling that and from a product perspective, what are some of the things that you guys have done now that you can share with the audience out there?

This environment is changing.  It’s changing Yahoo and all the search engine…I mean they’ve got to deal with this new media.  New formats are coming in; you mentioned broadband and the ease of publishing.  How are you guys handling that and from a product perspective, what are some of the things that you guys have done now that you can share with the audience out there? 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
That’s a great question.  Part of it was that we launched video search back in December of 2004.  Part of it was to align with our vision in search, which is to enable people to find, use, share, and expand all human knowledge.  Part of that was to look at the vertical applications.  We looked at the query logs and we looked at what the users were doing.  We found that whether it was video, audio, or an image, there were a lot of folks that were doing that type of search.  We wanted to create an experience specifically for them and so we launched video search back in December in beta.  Our focus with that product has been about comprehensiveness, openness, and relevance.  What we have recently done is we have started to introduce more discovery.  So if you go the homepage now video.search.yahoo.com you will see not just a search box which is equally important, but you will see a popular search modules.  So we do try to help you discover what is on the video Internet at any one time.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
Talk about discovery.  A lot of developers are out there developing stuff but users are submitting content and people just want to find it.  What specifically around discovery have you done and where are the key areas that you are developing?

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
The first thing has been for us to push what’s popular today on the Internet.  So, if you’re coming to video search or audio search or image search for that matter, we help you just get started.  Because there is so much media out there, I think a lot of folks right now feel that  it is a little fragmented (Where do I start, do I absolutely know what I am looking for?)  And we do give you that control with the search box so you can get detail and you can get that discovery.  What we have also done outside of the front pages or the homepages with video search recently, is on the search results page.  So we just recently launched two different views we have the grid view which is the normal key frame view so I can quickly scan the thumbnails and see what the video is out there.  We also have a list view now that shows you any additional metadata that is associated with that particular piece of video.  We also allow you to filter and say “Show me more from this particular site.?  So it allows you to keep discovering.  So if I like, for instance, what is coming out of this particular site, I can filter the results that way as well.  The third is we have a product here at Yahoo called My Web 2.0 and we have the ability in our search results to save that result to My Web, tag it, write a description, and share it with your community.  So we are helping from the expansion perspective to say, “I’m consuming, I’m discovering, let me help others consume and discover as well because a recommendation has a level of trust with my community.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
Wow, that’s impressive!  You make it sound so easy.  A lot of people don’t know that you have a background prior to coming to Yahoo with a company with this stuff.  We’ve come a long way, this isn’t easy stuff.  Talk about the nuances, you make it sound really easy and that is perfect for users you do make it easy.  What’s going on under the covers? 

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
It’s now easy.  First I think that from video and audio and even imagery one of the differences is the amount of information or metadata about that particular piece of media that is available because that does drive the search and discovery.  One of the things that we do whether it’s from crawling and collecting information about that particular video, getting the time duration, the date, but also the manual ways as well so the tagging phenomenon (you are familiar with the site Flickr) that we acquired earlier this year, basically that site has grown and gotten so successful because of their communities ability to describe the content through tagging.  It has created an enormous ecosystem of folks wanting to contribute to the index, folks wanting to contribute to Filckr, and folks using tagging as a way to enhance that search and discovery experience in Flickr.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
Is tagging an open source search algorithm?  Think about open source development, people will just chip in on projects but one little tag adds to the overall thing.  It’s like open source search.  You guys are pioneering that, right?  Talk about that.

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Yes, I think that it also puts search in the hands of the user. You know the statement, “The tyranny of the webmaster? right?  I think tagging gets you around that because the users become much more involved in terms of their search experience.  One of the key areas with that is with the community and the ability for users to share that and rate that and to use each other for trust and for relevance. I think from a tagging perspective that really opens it up for the users to do that.  We are very excited about that particular element.  So between the traditional automated ways of getting metadata, but also the new ways of getting metadata through tagging, that experience in combination really delivers that right discovery experience for users.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
So algorithmic gives you the deep knowledge about…obviously its machine based crawler.  And then you got combined with social optimized stuff which maximizes the relevancy and that is the key that you guys are focused on

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Absolutely!

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
Talk about multimedia.  A lot of people talk about audio search, video search, image search; you have to look at this as kind of a whole.  Talk about the differences of how you look at it versus some people look at it and they just do audio, they just do image.  Talk about what Yahoo has learned and what Yahoo is doing around, kind of looking at it as integrated.  People don’t look at it that way.  I don’t look at audio the same as video and they’re together.

Talk about multimedia.  A lot of people talk about audio search, video search, image search; you have to look at this as kind of a whole.  Talk about the differences of how you look at it versus some people look at it and they just do audio, they just do image.  Talk about what Yahoo has learned and what Yahoo is doing around, kind of looking at it as integrated.  People don’t look at it that way.  I don’t look at audio the same as video and they’re together. 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Yes.  One example of the integrated experience for us is the recent release of our audio search product so it’s audio.search.yahoo.com we released it in August.  There were three components to that experience.  We’ve got music related queries and content, there’s other audio, so sound effects that type of thing, and then we also have podcasting.  So between those three things we give the user and we’ve got over 50 million audio files in the index so through partners and through web crawling we really have a comprehensive and open index for folks to discover what is out there on the audio internet.  What we’ve done in the results set is to integrate.  Let’s say for instance you do a query on your favorite artist and you go to the artist’s page and you are consuming information about the artist.  It’s not just a bunch of links we also have music videos and weather they come from our own Yahoo music or from other services we can bring that in and we’ve integrated that through video search.  You get video search results within the audio experience because if I’m in music, music videos are related.  So what we are attempting to do in audio search right now is bring that combined experience to the user because it is relevant and it is related.  The users have come back to us with lots of feedback that says, “That is really interesting for us to consume.?

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
They want everything together.  They don’t want to have to jump to silos to get specific stuff.  A lot of people don’t know that, but Yahoo is fully integrated back end and you have had years of experience from the original web with Yahoo being really web1.0.  Now you guys have a completely different and fully integrated back end.  You’ve got Yahoo finance, people have yahoo groups.  What you are talking about sounds easy.  How do you guys integrate and thread that across, especially with the multimedia?

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
We’ve talked about pulling in content from the web, pulling in content from partners, but we also have an enormous amount of content, and very relevant and very interesting content on the Yahoo network.  You mentioned finance, you mentioned Yahoo News, Yahoo Movies, Yahoo TV, Yahoo Music, Yahoo Sports; all of these destination properties that we have that are creating and putting in very interesting content.  What we do is actually put that into our index as well.  So users, as they are searching, it’s really the most comprehensive view of what’s on the multimedia internet.  Whether it’s coming from on network or off network.  We bring that content into the experience, let the users discover it, and go back to those particular destinations as they are clicking around the site.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
So as a product guy you are a real pro when it comes to product, product management, product marketing, you’ve got to look at this.  How do you deal with the complexity of the back end?  And then at the front end users just want distribution.  So you talk about discovery.  How do you look at that today and then going forward?

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Well, I think you kind of touched on it where we want to hide the complexity of the back end, from the user.  Where the user experience is simple, easy, and open.  But the back end, whether it is the processing, the relevance, the search, the discoverability, all of those heavy lifting things we do ourselves.  That is Yahoo’s IP and core competency as well as of our acquisitions which included AltaVista.  So when AltaVista was an early pioneer in multimedia search on the internet and we’ve got those technologies and those people here at Yahoo as well.  So, we have a lot of expertise in the space and basically applying that to the back end to make the most simple and open user experience.

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
So talk about how multimedia search is changing traditional search.  Obviously you guys have a core search group that does a great job algorithmic and you’ve got advertising network with other things for advertisers.  But with multimedia, talk about how that is changing just search in general from a user experience and then just how people are consuming content.

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Well, I think part of that is…and I think that is a really good question because you could just say let’s just make the multimedia experience part of the web experience and just create this unified search.  From our perspective, users do consume multimedia differently.  They do go to multimedia search for different purposes and they do expect a different experience from multimedia search.  From our perspective, that is why we broke them out into separate vertical searches and are working to deliver those specific experiences for users and publishers to get the content into the system to get the users to come there and to start consuming and to get more engaged with that work flow and that user base and that discovery mechanism which is different from web.  However, if you come for video search, image search, or audio search, certainly we like you to stay for web search.  That is a big core competency of Yahoo and we are very proud of web search and so we use those vertical searches as a way to drag traffic that direction.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
So the direction you are heading, what you are saying is that you from Yahoo experience users go to Yahoo for particular reasons whether it’s for search or finance they still get the…what you are saying is from a functional standpoint, it is going to be different than web search.  Not necessarily blended in, but they come for web search but they also come for media search.  Is that what you are saying in terms of…?

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Yes, absolutely.  We do have some blending so if you are on web search and you are looking for media experience we do have a way to expose through this technique called iWire inside Yahoo basically to show you some multimedia results and to allow you to discover that link to go to our page and to start discovering a multimedia experience.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
Final question for you.  Talk about some of the highlights in your mind from a product…you must be proud of some of the stuff that you guys have done.  Talk about some of the highlights in the product features that users may not be aware of.  Whether its timeliness or user experience and then share those with the group.  What are the key areas that you can highlight?

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Definitely.  I’m proud of all three. In particular, proud of video search.  The amount of progress we’ve been able to make coming out of beta, coming in beta in December, we launched in GA back in April.  The amount of partners, the amount of web content we’ve been able to get into the system, our launch of Media RSS as a way for the average consumer to send and syndicate content into our index.  We are in fifteen different countries, translated into six different languages.  We recently launched a new search results page that ties together finding more from a particular site, integrating with My web, and also to help that discovery mechanism.  I’m proud of that release and the way that we’ve been able to take something that was new to the market in terms of this new market in December and really drive a lot of features, a lot of functions, and we’ve received a tremendous amount of positive user feedback on that.  The second piece is on audio search and our ability to put that product together at a time when podcasting, along with music and other audio, were really starting to converge into a single experience.  And for us to deliver that experience in the way that we did it from the user experience I was very proud of the team in terms of the way they were able to do that in a relatively short amount of time.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
Actually, I have one more final question.  What can you talk about to the audience out there about what to expect from Yahoo down the road in terms of putting a stake in the ground?  Some of the things that you see happening from a product perspective.

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
I think you will continue to see us align with the core search vision which is enabling people to find, use, share, and expand all human knowledge and share and expand.  And you’ve seen that with regards to our “save to my web? and some other things that we are doing on the discovery side and the sharing side.  So I think we are going to keep aligning more and more with that vision and keep putting in features and discovering mechanisms for publishers, for users going forward.

 

John Furrier – Founder of PodTech.net
That’s great stuff.  We’re here with Jeff Karnes who is the Director of Multimedia Search and is responsible for all of Yahoo’s efforts on all multimedia search; image, video, audio.  Great stuff.  Thanks for the podcast.

 

Jeff Karnes – Director of Multimedia Search at Yahoo!
Thanks John! Appreciate it! Thank you!

Author: John

Entrepreneur living in Palo Alto California and the Founder of SiliconANGLE Media

4 thoughts on “InfoTalk Podcast: Multimedia Search with Yahoo’s Jeff Karnes”

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