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blinkx Relaunches Search, Viewing Platform

Adapting to consumer behavior, video search engine blinkx today is expected to relaunch its search and viewing platform with a cleaner interface and new discovery tools, including audio meta-data tagging,

In response to consumer demand for “lean back,” casual viewing experiences online, blinkx’s new home page features “Entertain Me,” “Inform Me,” and “Give Me My Own Channel” buttons, each of which programs linear viewing of relevant videos using “concept clustering technology.”

The patented technology identifies popular entertainment clips and timely news stories from across the Web to create playlists for the respective buttons.

“We identified an increasing number of visitors who weren’t looking for specific video, but just wanted to be entertained with good content,” said Suranga Chandratillake, founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based blinkx. “We want to accommodate every kind of viewer.”

Alternatively, a new “more Information” button allows users to explore videos using speech-, image-, facial-, and concept-recognition technology.

Since its launch in 2004, blinkx’s reason-for-being has been to develop an efficient, scalable way to search the millions of hours of video now flooding the Web.

In September, unique visitorship was up 106% year-on year-to 64 million, while page views were up 267% to 668 million, according to comScore. In addition, blinkx saw daily video search run rates of over 7,000,000 per day in September, while content hours increased 78% year-on-year, from 18.5 million to 32 million.

Derived almost entirely by advertising, revenue doubled year-over-year to about $13 million last year, according to Chandratillake.

“It’s slow and steady, but we’re happy with those numbers considering that YouTube is estimated to be making something like $100 million a year,” he said.

Employing technology that “listens” to the speech track of a given video, blinkx videos are now accompanied by speech tags to complement text meta-data tags. As such, users can now find videos by specific spoken words, and then jump to the exact point in the videos when those words are uttered.

blinkx’s facial recognition technology identifies and catalogs recognizable faces within videos, and presents users with thumbnails of the different faces that appear in a given video.

In addition, blinkx’s technology detects scene changes, and matches videos that share similar visual components. For example, news videos on the presidential inauguration might come from different television networks, but if they share similar scenes from the event, then blinkx presents the videos as a set of related results.

While larger media companies have ruled out acquisition activity this year, Chandratillake said blinkx could be tempted by this buyer’s market. “We could see some very attractive deals this year, and we’re lucky to be sitting on a large cash pile,” he said.

Exactly what sectors interest blinkx, Chandratillake would not say, but the company did attempt to snatch up vertically focused PPC engine Miva last summer for a reported $41 million. Miva turned down what it considered the low-ball offer.

However, according to blinkx, the deal would have been mutually beneficial, as it would have acquired a broader distribution network for its AdHoc video ad platform, while Miva would have gained platform improvements, higher CPMs, and new functionality for its toolbar product.