Pixsy Powers Video & Image Search; an Interview with CEO Chase Norlin
By Grant Crowell
This week the digital multimedia search provider Pixsy, announced its media search partnership with Maxim Digital, which sites include Maxim.com, Blender.com, and Stuffmagazine.com. Over the past few months, Pixsy has become the distributor of chose for many content publishers to expand their video and image search capabilities, especially amongst publishers in the entertainment, travel industries, music sites, Internet television platforms, and popular video and image search desination sites as well.
Pixsy’s proprietary media search technology has allowed website publishers and application providers to expand their video and image search capabilities with an up-to-the-hour aggregation and categorization platform, either with solely client’s own content, 3rd party content, or both. With this technology, any site can run a branded multimedia search engine with content customized to their specific audience, thereby creating new up-to-date video and image content, enhanced search experience, as well as targeted advertising inventory.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to do several interviews with Pixsy’s CEO, Chase Norlin, who shared his background and emergence into the search space, and how he believes the Pixsy distribution model will empower publishers and search marketers.
Let’s talk about your pre-Pixsy days. How did you first get involved with online video and image search?
I’ve been in the video and image space for quite a while. I first worked for Sony, where I built their first photo sharing business. Then I was recruited to Bill Gates’ company, Corbis, to be the business development guy for their consumer division. And afterward helped Boeing start their first photo and video licensing division, which is to this day one of the only non-airplane businesses that they make revenue from. I also started the first YouTube on the web; that was way to early, so I learned a lot about the importance of timing.
How did you get started with Pixsy? And, why the move to video and image search?
Pixsy actually started as my fun side project, back when I was working in search and distribution at InfoSpace (now ValueClick), and my job was running ads on other sites.
The advertising space has already become wildly competitive., which is when I realized something: What if you could bring tools and technology to websites that created new ad inventory?
It was two years ago when we had looked around and discovered Image Search, the fastest growing computer search vertical. Its 10% of Google’s traffic, it grows 100% year-over-year, and it’s traditionally never been distributed. We said to ourselves, if image search is so widely popular, why doesn’t every website have it? And that was literally the epiphany behind Pixsy. Our focus was on image distribution instead of building a destination business.
While we were building it, video search came around. We decided to treat video and image content as both the same thing, because they really are the same thing. There’s thumbnails plus metadata. Image Search is growing so fast and Video Search is rapidly approaching that. So we thought, why don’t we just combine the two and offer that to publishers?
Explain how Pixsy’s media distribution business model differs from other providers on the Web.
The business model is sitting in the middle categorizing the content, slicing and dicing it, and then running image and video search experiences on publisher sites. It’s very much like an ad network that sits in the middle, but instead of advertisers coming in, its content coming in. And that comes in the form of image and video thumbnails. So we’re constantly crawling the web, grabbing all of this material, and then categorize and organize all of this material in a database. The reason why we do that is so we can knock on the door of the publisher and say, “Hey, you want a sports image and video search engine, do you want a news one, do you want a viral video one, do you want a television one, do you want a movie one, etc, you name it.”
So essentially we’ve taken an ad network approach, a PPC syndication model by knocking on the door of publishers and saying, “Hey publisher, you should be in the fastest growing search business and you should be in it over night, why should Google control that business? You should be in it.”
With your multimedia search engine, how flexible is your program to integrate both a site owners on content with outside content?
Completely flexible. Say you want just your own content searched? We’ll literally build you an image and video search engine of just your content. You want your content plus other material? No problem there, either. We mix and match however the publisher wants – their content alone, our content across the web, or both.
How can a content provider get indexed by Pixsy?
There are a variety of different ways. If they are a large content provider, they could send us a note saying, “We’re a big content provider, we’ve got five million videos and we want to dump the whole thing into your hands.” And we’ll consume the whole index.
If it’s a small content provider, they’ll send an RSS feed or an MRSS feed, they get put into our queue, and eventually it gets crawled and gets added.
You’ve mentioned in a past press release that being indexed by Pixsy also serves an SEO benefit, that it increases publishers’ rankings in the major search engines. How does that work?
We built new technology that enables us to create specific image and video search results and affect SEO ranking. In some internal testing we’ve done, we’ve actually shown 50-100% increase on those specific key word queries coming up in a Google query. The publisher can actually use this and we’ll give them instructions on how to submit these image and video results to Google, Yahoo, MSN and AskJeeves, as a tool to acquire traffic for themselves.
When we started the business we looked at Google Image search, and we realized, all the image search providers on the web, Yahoo and MSN included, literally took their regular algorithm and applied image search. Which means it’s entirely based on relevance. If you do a search for a particular celebrity you’ll see in Google image search you get the same results every day, every week, and in some cases, every 6 months. It’s all the same stuff. So we said “You know what, image search should have a higher freshness quotient to it, the whole time stamp concept.” So, when you type in a keyword of a person or subject, by viewing Pixsy, some of the stuff is changing based on whatever is happening on that person or subject up to the minute. You also get a different type of result with a higher freshness quotient in the entertainment categories, which the general public tends to care more about.
How would you rate Pixsy’s performance with business-themed content and searches?
Video and image search tend to have more entertainment-oriented search activity, especially video search. We’re strong on business-driven results as well, news in particular, though that’s not necessarily the most popular consumer search category. Since Pixsy is focused on what consumer care about searching the most, I rate our B2B product very high in delivering that value to end users.
What do you use as the primary incentive for acquiring publishers to your program?
When we go to a publisher, we do a couple things. One is we say, “Hey publisher, we’re going to put you in the fastest growing search business, create search activity, adds content to your site, oh, by the way, you make money.” So, we’re not coming in there saying this is all about making money, we’re coming in there saying, this is an experience and publishers need to have it! The bi-product is you can run paid listings, CPC text ads or graphical ads, or in-text ads like from Kontera and Vibrant Media on your site.
What are your company’s future plans – will you stick with being a distribution model, or expand into becoming a search destination site for image and video?
It’s not necessarily an apparition, although I think we have a pretty recognizable brand at least in the image and video search market. We’re not a destination business so you don’t get a lot of fan fare that you get at YouTube and the sexiness of that. We’re not a video business, so you don’t get the sexiness of the video categories. Our vision is to be somewhat behind the scenes and allow everyone to tap into our massive resource. It seems unfair that Google and YouTube and MSN and Ask Jeeves and Yahoo that they should control all of that. That should be an advantage to every publisher.
About Grant Crowell
Grant Crowell is the CEO of Grantastic Designs, a search engine marketing and web design marketing company specializing in video search optimization and production.