Devices proffering video capture are nearing ubiquity. Hence, so too are lackluster, unedited video clips. Magisto to the rescue.

The Israel-based startup is launching to the public Tuesday with an automated video editing platform. Magisto’s promise: Give us your unedited footage, and we’ll give you a short movie that you can proudly show off to friends and family.

In fact, that’s nearly all there is to the site. You can upload up to 16 video files, add a title and soundtrack — select from available tracks or add your own — and then sit back and wait for an email to notify you that your mini movie is ready to be shared.

Magisto is not for the artistically-inclined, obsess-over-every-detail video editor. It’s for average Joes and Janes who don’t have the time or interest to bother with learning or using complicated editing software.

“The average person doesn’t edit videos,” says Magisto co-founder and CEO Oren Boiman. “So they

either post long boring videos nobody wants to watch, or they save them on their hard drive — unwatched, unedited, unshared. We made Magisto to give people a way to take their videos and turn them into movies that are fun to watch and easy to share.”

The startup is keeping mum on its secret sauce, but does say that its proprietary technology is designed to automatically find the best footage in your videos. The technology is said to recognize faces, understand the difference between people, objects, pets and landscapes, and even capture the intent of the filmmaker.

Magisto’s magic formula, from what we’ve seen, works impressively well — so well, we’d like to see the startup release mobile applications for quicker uploads, and remove its branding at the end of finished movies.

Coinciding with Tuesday’s launch, Magisto is announcing that it has raised $5.5 million in a Series B round of financing.

Image courtesy of iStockphotoadventtr

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The Future of Search Series is supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo, the leading search, social and display conference. From November 14-18, get five days of education, inspiration and conversations with marketing experts from the digital space. Register with MASH20 to save 20%.

A text-based, context-less search experience, the type of search experience consumers have come to expect on the web, is becoming passé as touchscreens replace keyboards and tablets re-imagine what’s possible.

“I give you a query and you give me an answer,” says Norman Winarsky, vice president of SRI Ventures and longtime search expert, on what search is today. “But the search bar doesn’t understand my query.”

“The tablet offers the opportunity for discovery, as well as for search,” he adds, “and not only for discovery, but for inspiration.”

As the co-founder of personal assistant startup Siri — which was acquired by Apple and may find its way into iOS 5 — and an investor in a number of future tech search-driven startups, Winarsky has an ever-present eye on trends in search.

In an interview with Mashable, Winarsky details how tablets are changing the way we search.

The Unified Experience





“Tablets enable a full, interactive experience that involves not only text, but potentially speech and interactions,” he says.

Search on tablets will incorporate how you engage with your tablet’s touchscreen, front and back cameras and microphone. “Where are you looking? What are you seeing? How much time are you spending reading?,” he says as ways to imagine new avenues for search on tablets.

The tablet, more so than other devices, can know enough about you to understand the context around your queries and give you better answers, he says. “Search becomes a unified experience on a tablet … a unified experience between our eyes, our ears and our cognitive processes.”

The future of search, as pioneered by the tablet’s form factor, is the dynamic interaction among all of your senses, foretells Winarsky.

Winarsky’s predictions aren’t all that far fetched, especially if you align yourself with the camp that believes that tablets will replace laptops and PCs as the primary devices for personal computing purposes.

Forrester, for one, estimates that tablet sales will total 195 million between 2010 and 2015, with tablet sales eclipsing laptop sales by 2015. Apple is currently dominating the market; it alone sold 9.25 million iPads in its fiscal third quarter — the company’s best quarter ever.

In a post-PC world, keyboards will play second fiddle to fingers and gestures. Cameras will conjoin the physical with the virtual. Our voices will tell our tablets what we want, and our tablets will process speech in a near-cognitive fashion. All those dynamics will aid significantly in the discovery on information with right-here, right-now context.

The New Battle





Who then is best positioned to command this new frontier in next generation, tablet-optimized search?

“It’s kind of hard to bet against Google, isn’t it?” Winarsky says. Still, he admits that the company is behind in the tablet market with Android and behind in the social networking space, even with Google+. But, Google owns the text search market, and it has the resources to create a unified search experience, he says.

“In order to win the new battle of search, you’re going to have to win all of the elements of the unified experience,” Winarsky says. “You better be a dominant player in social networks … you better be a great player in artificial intelligence and speech recognition … you need to be able to understand the content of videos and images, and you need a far better interaction experience that enables you to better understand the human interaction with the tablet.”

But, will the unified search experience take the form of an application, an operating system or continue to be a literal search experience? “Eventually, search will not be a separate activity. It will be incorporated into the operating system of the tablet,” Winarsky says, though he qualifies his statement to add that this will take years to happen.

Search on tablets, as outlined here by Winarsky will be a far different experience than search as we know it. Will these tablet-inspired experiences trickle back to how we as consumers expect to search for information on the web via laptop or PC? “Absolutely,” says Winarsky.

“People will feel that search by text alone, in a text bar, without interaction and without multimedia is prehistoric in five to 10 years.” This, perchance, leaves the door open to a new king in the search market.

Images courtesy of iStockphotoarakonyunus, and Flickr, waferbabyArne Kuilman

Series supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo

The Future of Search Series is supported by SES Chicago Conference and Expo, connecting the digital dots between search, social and commerce. The SES Chicago Conference & Expo takes a critical look at the latest developments to help marketers traverse the quickly developing landscape, with a special focus on the latest ecommerce trends and the latest technology launches from Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Register with MASH20 and save 20%. Join the discussion #SESConf.


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Amazon Working on a Netflix for Books [REPORT]

Word on the street is that Amazon may be creating a Netflix-like subscription service for books. The service would allow customers to to pay a single monthly fee for access to a library of books, with

Amazon handing over a substantial amount
 of cash to publishers to make that magic happen.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is currently still discussing the logistics on the program. The ultimate goal would be to allow customers to pay a certain fee per moth, and then be able to read a certain number of titles each month in return from a special library of books.

The idea is certainly an interesting one. If you travel often (or are just an avid reader) purchasing books can get pretty expensive over time. While you can check out digital copies of books from some libraries, being able to have access to a different Amazon library could be great for some.

Are any of you big ebook readers? What do you think about Amazon potentially offering a Netflix-likebook service?

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Shane Snow is co-founder of, an “agile publishing” platform for brands-turned-publishers and freelance journalists.

Old school SEO pros cover your ears, or be prepared to adapt your craft: Search engines are changing, and social media is a huge part of that change.

BingGoogle, and an increasing swath of nimble little search engines like Blekko and DuckDuckGo are incorporating social data into their results. This is potentially great news for new businesses trying to achieve visibility in search. It’s less great news for sites that rely heavily on link buying (illegal, but hard to catch), producing huge volumes of borderline-useless content (long-tail, content farm approach), or just really old domains (previously an SEO trump card).

Both Bing and Google admitted in interviews that their search results are positively affected by social signals, such as tweets, Facebook Likes, and +1s.


SEE ALSO: How User-Generated Content Is Changing SEO 



“As ideas, thoughts, questions and answers are shared more freely and easily than ever, the increased amount of information from social sources provides great benefits to users,” says a Microsoft spokesperson for Bing (who asked to remain anonymous).

“The links that you build through social media, the references, the authority — all can have an impact in various ways on how you are ranked and listed even in ‘regular’ search results,” says Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-chief ofSearch Engine Land, in an email interview. “Social media allows for people to provide more trusted signals.”

Search Engines Adapt to Survive

Since the early Internet days of Excite and Webcrawler, the principal goal of search engines has been to help people find what they’re looking for. Google rose to dominate the industry by tracking better indicators of content quality than anyone else. It developed a complex algorithm that measured which websites were “voting” for others by linking to them.

Essentially, it was social media, but for websites rather than people. If your site had lots of links from relevant sites, your Google rank climbed. Plenty of other factors, like putting keywords into headlines and titles, remained in play (and continually evolved), but the game changer of the last decade was links.

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry emerged to help webmasters play the “me rank higher” game with Google. On the one hand, website owners attempt to adhere to Google’s standards and prove they are high quality (creating relevant, high quality content and formatting it to Google’s taste). On the other hand, shadier sites try to trick Google’s secret formula, “pretending” to be good content without having to bother with creating useful stuff.

The spammers have done well for themselves. Over the last few years, searchers have increasingly complained about the number of irrelevant or spammy results returned in searches.

The battle to the top of search keeps search engines on their toes. Every so often Google, makes an abrupt change in its algorithm, like the “Panda Update” of early 2011 that wiped out a significant number of content farm results. Periodically, new search engines launch to try to outdo Google. Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has climbed to 30% market share since its launch in 2009. Blekko, an “anti-spam” search engine, has climbed to a million searches a day since its launch in 2007.

And now, social media is factoring in to make results even better.

Social Media Changes The Game

Social networks produce an immense amount of data about what real people like enough to share with their friends.

Today, people share 30 billion pieces of content on Facebook and over 5 billion tweets — about a quarter of which contain links to content — per month.

In an industry where knowing what humans like is crucial to success, search engines have figured out — and taken to heart — a delightfully simple mantra: If people share your content, it’s probably pretty good.

In a white paper called New Signals To Search Engines, Search Engine Strategies Advisory Board chair Mike Grehan says, “End users who previously couldn’t vote for content via links from web pages are now able to vote for content with their clicks, bookmarks, tags and ratings. These are very strong signals to search engines, and best of all, they don’t rely on the elitism of one website owner linking to another or the often mediocre crawl of a dumb bot.”

We’re already seeing proof of search engines taking social data into account when serving results.

Social Data Is Personalizing Results





Last year, Bing started incorporating Facebook like data into its search results. Results for pages that a searcher’s own friends had liked show up more prominently.

And more recently, Bing announced better results through Facebook data and “collective IQ,” meaning that things popular throughout Facebook (not just among your friends) rank more prominently.


SEE ALSO: Why Web Personalization May Be Damaging Our World View 



“Search is better when it’s not just based in math and algorithms, but also infused with the opinions of people,” writes the Bing team in a blog post.

Google answered back to the Bing-Facebook deal with its own +1 button, and subsequently Google+. When searching as a logged-in Google user, you now see this social data personalizing your results.

Sullivan recounts how automaker Ford rose in his Google results after he added Ford to his Google+ account. “Ford gets into the top results for cars not because of links, not because of the content on its page, but because I was ‘friends’ with it,” Sullivan says.

Shared Content Now Ranks Higher in Organic Search

Both Google and Bing have added real-time results to their searches, meaning Twitter (and now Google+) results show up prominently above other content.

In addition, several experiments have shown that sharing stories on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can dramatically affect regular search results as well.

In July this year, Rand Fishkin of search engine authority performed a series of experiments to see if 1) social shares affected Google search results, and 2) how quickly those results appeared. (Find the full details on the experiment here.)

Spoiler Alert: In every test Fishkin performed, tweets and Google+ shares dramatically affected the rank of new, previously unindexed content. The results in most cases were nearly instant.

“We’re experimenting with clicks on +1 buttons as just one of the hundreds of signals that influences the ranking and appearance of websites in search results,” says a Google spokesperson (who wished to remain anonymous), via email. “As with any new ranking signal, for +1’s and other social ranking signals, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals are related to quality.”

A Microsoft spokesperson (who also requested anonymity), says via email that tweets and Facebook Likes do indeed positively affect a URL’s ranking in search results on Bing. “To be candid,” she says, “we are experimenting with placements in order to strike a balance between this new social signal and the other signals we have honed to determine relevance.”

“Social signals that say quality are pretty straight forward,” says the Microsoft spokesperson. “Look to things such as likes, re-tweets, shares, etc. Beyond that, watch for the sentiment surrounding the action. Are people sharing your content via Twitter yet flagging it with #fail? If so, it’s a clue they’re displeased.”

When we go to a search engine, we want to find what we’re looking for, immediately and hassle-free. It’s clear that social media is helping search engines deliver more immediacy and more relevant results. In the long run, this will help SEO-directed businesses focus on what they should be doing: creating content people love.

Image courtesy of iStockphotohillaryfoxilbusca

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