BBC introduces searchable videos

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Democracy Live arrives

The BBC has launched a new website that is heavily driven by searchable online video.

Democracy Live, which is believed to have cost more than £1m, was unveiled today as a one-stop portal for politics content, reports the Guardian. The site provides links to high-profile BBC bloggers such as Nick Robinson and Gavin Hewitt, as well as big-name interviews and explanatory guides.

The homepage is dominated by no fewer than eight video streams covering events in Westminster, Strasbourg, Cardiff, Holyrood and Stormont. Outlining the turnaround time for the streams, the BBC estimates that a 30-minute video will take a further 30 minutes to process and a "few more minutes" to go live.

Searchable video raises marketing hopes

One of the most innovative aspects of Democracy Live is the speech-to-text search function, which has already caught the attention of digital marketers. The system, a first for the BBC, automatically converts all spoken words in videos into text. Users can then search this text for specific keywords and any matches will be displayed in a list format with details of when and where the recording took place. At the bottom of each clip, a link enables viewers to skip to the exact point where that keyword was spoken so they can immediately find relevant content.

Mark Baker, online marketing manager at theEword, was impressed by the speech-to-text function.

"I think this could have important implications for online video marketing in the future," he said.

"Speech-to-text keyword search helps users find relevant videos and it might also help marketers target them with relevant pre- and post-roll ads."

Last month, the BBC unveiled plans for a comprehensive redesign of its flagship news portal. The revamped BBC News website, which sources claim will launch by March 2010, lets online video users comment on particular moments in online videos and read responses from other viewers at the same point.