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Newly Redesigned Twitmatic Makes Video Search Social

Online video is constantly being updated, and viewers need search results that reflect what's popular right now, not last week or last month. That's the core idea behind Twitmatic, an innovative search site that harnesses the social power of Twitter and uses it to mine video information.

Twitmatic was created by ffwd (pronounced "fast forward"), a startup that aims to reshape online viewing. We spoke to company CEO Patrick Koppula about how Twitmatic differs from other video search tools.

The problem with existing video search is that it's designed to help you find something specific. But consider how people watch TV, says Koppula: They often surf through channels without any particular goal, simply looking for something that feels right. The web hasn't tapped into this yet, because video search so far has been focused on delivering exact results.

The newly redesigned Twitmatic site feels like a Twitter offshoot, with its soft blue color scheme and, of course, tweeting blue bird. The difference here, though, is that each tweet on a search results page has a video link and a large Play Video button next to it. Click it and your video plays inline, so you never leave the interface. After you've watched a video, you can click an arrow to watch the next video in the list or else run another search.

Twitmatic

The benefit of searching with Twitmatic is that you get the immediacy of social networking, so it feels like you're in on the conversation. While a search for Adam Lambert on YouTube will pull up his most-watched clips, says Koppula, the same search on Twitmatic pulls up clips that are being discussed now, probably from a recent TV appearance.

The site only launched six weeks ago, and Koppula's team has already released a major upgrade. Viewers will now find it easier to create their own content channels, viewing videos around a given topic. Viewers can also log into their Twitter accounts through Twitmatic and follow or unfollow people from there. They can also now save searches and get notified of new results after they've run a search.

The company behind Twitmatic, ffwd, started in 2007 to provide solutions for online video search. Koppula could see that online video was going through a similar transition as online music had, becoming more accessible and easier to distribute, and knew that viewers would need good search tools to sort it out.

The solution wasn't to create a top-down system, where people pull information on whatever category they're searching, but a bottom-up solution where audience popularity drives results.

ffwd is based in San Francisco and currently has five employees and two consultants. The company is "pre-revenue," says Koppula, but has received $1.7 million from venture capitalists Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

Twitmatic isn't the company's only concern, however. It's working on codeveloping applications with partners, says Koppula, and is exploring other ways its core search technology can be used. It could be used by online video catalogs to help people discover content when they don't know what they're looking for, and could also be used in consumer online TV devices.

Viewers can expect plenty of new features to come to Twitmatic. The next step is weighted results, says Koppula, which will filter out spam and rank results based on the number and quality of tweets that a video has received. After that, expect results that give more weight to links from within your social network. He plans to monetize the site by adding paid insertions to the video streams. They won't strictly be ads, and viewers will be able to skip them.

As online video and family room viewing continue to merge, ffwd and Twitmatic are ready to bring browsing to online video. Run a search on it, and, if you like what you find, tweet your results.

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