Twitmatic, created by San Francisco startup ffwd, relaunched their Twitter video search application yesterday to help users more easily find video content shared via Twitter. Now before you go getting your hopes up you need to understand, this is a twitter video search app - IE, it only pulls in videos that are being shared through Tweets. None-the-less, this is a very cool application.
So of course this is huge news right? Twitter is the darling of social networking right now so wouldn't it be cool if you could just pull out all the latest videos that are being shared on it? Well, yes, it would be cool I guess. Especially if you're a video creator and you want to continue to track your brand's online spread. So it's great that you can go to Twitmatic and type in your brand and see if it's being spread via video tweets.
Observations and Problems
I did have problems playing videos in one of my Firefox 3.x installs but that install is known to have problems with Flash in general so I tested in some other browsers. In my other Firefox 3.x, IE 6 and 7 the videos played without a problem (except for that blasted Video Fail button showing up).
There are no ads on it or on Twitmatic. So really there's no revenue stream here for advertisers and marketers. However there is a huge market here for those producing fantastic video content online.
More Questions than Answers ;-)
So, clearly I have some additional questions. Given that I dont have hours to analyze the site, Ill tell you my thoughts and then feel free to let us know your thoughts as well...
1) How are they determining which tweets have video?
Well, this is a bigger question altogether but I have my initial thoughts. It appears that they are finding tweets that contain certain keywords like, "Watch" and "video." Clearly, when you do certain searches, you will see that they dont return a video result. Example - search "ReelSEO." A lot of our tweets mention the word video, but you will see that not all of them have video in the result. Perhaps this is the reason for the "video fail" button. Not sure how, but seems like a way to improve the algorigthm over time.
2) What videos players can be displayed?
It appears that twitmatic, once it thinks it has a video link, goes to the source and looks for video. If found, they then use that to display the video on their app. but, what video players can be indexed and is there a particular way in which they have to be embedded on the destination page?
Obvioulsy youtube videos... but are there only certain platforms that they support, or is it any video with an embed code...? That is a bigger question and requires much more time than I have today... I have seen many different videos indexed from youtube, vimeo, and even wordpress' new videopress player.
Conclusion- What this Means for You
It's like we now have a sort of viral video tracker. Even though it's locked into videos that have been tweeted, we all know that twitter happens to be one of the biggest sites around and if your video is spreading virally there, I think you can rest assured that it is spreading elsewhere also. I think it would be nice if there was a notification option to notify you of matched search results but Im sure they have plenty of similar requests.
In my opinion, with its limited scope, it is difficult to say whether it will actually revolutionize video search in general. But it will do wonders on revolutionizing how people find content on Twitter. Congrats to Twitmatic.
What do y'all think?
As Ive had a bit more time to play around with the site after posting this, I have some unfortunate issues to report.
- I logged back out of Twitmatic and then back in - None of my searches were saved as indicated.
- I checked a search that I had done previously where I know there was a tweet within the past 2 hours.. There was no updated result - which begs the question - "Real Time?"
- I realize they cant tap the API every 2 minutes, but once every 2 hours would be nice.
Oh well, I still think it is interesting, but clearly some problems to be worked out.....
OK, so... the guys over at Twitmatic are on it. Greg, one of the co-founders, and senior developer of the app, sent me a great reply with answers that address all of the concerns state above....
So, here it is, straight from Twitmatic
"I'm the lead developer on Twitmatic which you reviewed today. We really appreciate you taking the time to give our product a spin and I'd like to just comment on some of the questions you posed in your article.
1. 'Video Fail' button - because our video find/import process is not 100% fail-proof, we included this button for our users to alert us to a video that doesn't play or which might possibly be an ad. "Report broken link" would be another term that we could have used. We can then go through these bad links, determine why they failed our import process, and then improve the process going forward.
3. 'How are they determining which tweets have video?'
Some of the technology I can't get into but basically we are able to take a tweet, find an http url in it, and then process the web content at the other end of the url. The process then pulls out likely videos and pushes them into our system. There are current limitations to our technology due to certain sites disabling embedding or utilizing advanced flash techniques. We parse the public timeline as well as do specific general searches to find many of the videos. We also depend on user searches to bring in other videos.
4. 'What videos players can be displayed?'
YouTube is obviously #1. I think something like 80% of the videos we import are from youtube. However we can also import sites like DailyMotion, Revver, iFilm, College Humor, Funny Or Die, Metacafe, etc. Currently we have over 7000 domains in our database from which we can pull videos. This breadth of sites is one of our main values when compared to the other real time twitter sites doing search.
5. 'I logged back out of Twitmatic and then back in - None of my searches were saved as indicated.'
That is indeed a problem and will be looked at immediately. Thanks for the tip.
6. 'I checked a search that I had done previously where I know there was a tweet within the past 2 hours.'
We're still fine tuning how the older searches are re-imported and we're trying to get things down to at least 30 minutes. Because we are doing far more parsing of data than sites like OneRiot or TweetMeme, it does take longer for us to return results. But we think having the videos inline is a bigger improvment than having to click out to another site to view a video.
Thanks again for taking the time to look at Twitmatic and give us a nice review. Hopefully we can get you to come back again as the product matures."
Greg and Twitmatic - Thank YOU!!!