With the ever-growing collection of multimedia content on the web, video search provides great opportunities for finding information and providing entertainment. From educational videos on the U.S. Constitution to theatrical trailers for movies, online videos can increase the breadth of almost any search effort.

The focus of this chapter is on the video search capabilities of three of the largest and most commonly used search engines: Bing, Yahoo, and Ask. In addition to their general search features, each of these sites provides specialized search capabilities for accessing video content.

Bing Instructions

How to Use

1.  Enter text into the search bar and notice the instant recommendations with each entered character.

2.  Once the initial search has been performed, observe the results.  Results can be sorted by either “Best match” according to Bing’s relevance algorithm or by “Most recent” using the posting date.  If results are not satisfactory, Bing provides two sets of recommended queries.  The first set includes related searches that use the keywords from the initial query.  These recommendations are shown below beginning with the result “Goodfellas 1990” and ending with “Goodfellas Trailer”.  The second set of recommended searches is located to the left of the results under the title “Related Topics”. These results do not contain search keywords, and instead connect to the query in some other way.  In the example below, suggestions include other critically acclaimed films.

3.  Using the scroll bar to the left of the search results, scroll down and open the various filters. Results can be filtered by length, resolution, and source. Filtering by length can limit results to one of three categories: less than 5 minutes, between 5 and 20 minutes, and greater than 20 minutes. In addition to these short, medium, and long time specifications, results can also be filtered to only provide high resolution. While the exact quality of high-resolution results is not specified, results appear to meet quasi-HD standards at a minimum. Finally, results can be limited by source, meaning only results from a single specified source such as YouTube or AOL will be retrieved.

4.  Some videos have a preview feature.  To enable, hover the cursor over a thumbnail image and if the preview feature is available it will begin playing with audio.

5.  To watch a video, click the desired image.  While content from sources such as dailymotion.com and vimeo can only be viewed on their respective home sites, videos from YouTube are shown on Bing.  Once on the video viewing page, related results, related searches, and trending video searches allow the user to continue the search process without returning to the previous screen.

6. When a YouTube video finishes, videos recommended by YouTube are presented.  Clicking a recommended video will retrieve the new content in the same window.

Comparison with Google Web search

Search Process: Recommendations and Filters

Bing Videos provides substantially more video recommendations than Google Videos.  The only recommended searches provided by Google are presented as the user types into the search bar.  In addition to providing this same feature, Bing also recommends searches once the initial query has been entered.

Filtering results with both Bing and Google is very convenient.  Since the filter options are located on the results pages of respective search engines, the only difference between the two sites is in terms of the options offered.  More specifically, in addition to having all of the the filters offered by Bing, Google also includes options for closed captions and date posted.  Thus, Google is clearly superior at filtering results.

Results: Content and Presentation

The results retrieved with Bing Videos are very similar to the results presented by Google.  Although, in presenting the results, Google is superior to Bing.  While Bing offers the interesting feature of previewing content by hovering the cursor over thumbnails, Google provides video descriptions.  Moreover, Some might find Google’s single column of results less cluttered and easier to navigate than Bing’s table of results.

Additional Features:  Homepage and Channels

Unlike Google Videos, the Bing Videos homepage offers a visually appealing display of content relating to its various channels. The default content relates to the “Top Videos” channel and typically contains both MSN original content and other videos from all over the web. Selecting to view a homepage video immediately starts the content without changing windows. Although, 30-second advertisements are shown before most videos begin.

Located on the homepage is a convenient selection of channels. By clicking a given channel, content relating to a theme as opposed to specific search terms is displayed. For example, the “News” channel retrieves videos concerning a wide variety of different news topics. To further refine the channel results, sub-channels such as “Local News” or “Associated Press” can be selected. Moreover, in addition to selecting channels on the basis of theme, referring to the “Site Index” can retrieve all videos from a particular website.

The Bing Videos homepage and featured channels provide an easy-to-use platform to watch trending and themed content. While the format of these features is user-friendly and accessible, the quality of content is only average. The two major flaws with the video selection is the clear preference for entertainment value over informational quality and the lack of frequent updates.

How to get the most out of it

  • Allow instant recommendations to guide the initial query in spelling, structure, and word choice.
  • To remove results containing certain words or phrases, place “-” in front of said word or phrase
  • To search multiple terms/phrases, place “OR” in between said terms and phrases.
  • Placing specific terms in quotes adds emphasis when retrieving results[1]
  • Use “Related Topics” to see how Bing understands the query.  If the recommendations are not similar to the intended search, add or remove search terms to better express the desired meaning. For example, when searching a movie title, if the “Related Topics” seem random, adding the word “movie” or “film” can better define the query.
  • Do not filter results by time unless absolutely necessary. The difference between a 4’55” clip and a 5’05” clip is minute.  Length categories neglect this, potentially resulting in less suitable content.
  • To change the amount of adult content, adjust the SafeSearch settings.


Yahoo! Instructions

How to Use

1.  Similar to with Bing, enter text into the search bar and notice the instant recommendations with each entered character.

2.  Once the initial query has been performed, look over the results.  To perform a more advanced search, select the “Options” button to the right of the search bar and click “Advanced Search”.

3. Through the “Advanced Search” options the user can both edit and filter the query. By entering text in the “Show results with” section, Yahoo! properly formats text in the search bar.  In addition, the other options allow users to filter results on characteristics other than content and title.

4.  Some videos have a preview feature.  To use, hover the cursor over a thumbnail image and if the preview feature is enabled, it will begin playing with audio.

5.  To watch a video, click the desired image.  Most content can be viewed on Yahoo!, but some videos are only accessible on the source page.  To view such content, the source page is embedded into the Yahoo! viewing page.  In either case, the only video recommended before the selected video finishes is the video that is scheduled to play next.

6.  Once the video does finish, recommendations from the source site are presented.

Comparison with Google Web search

Search Process: Advanced Search and Recommendations

The most inconvenient aspect of Yahoo! Video is the process of filtering content.  While Google allows users to filter results on the basis of duration, time (how old), quality, closed captions, and source directly on the results page, to filter Yahoo! results users must use the “Advanced Search” page.  That said, Yahoo! Video does allow users to filter by video format, which is a useful feature.

In addition, while the amount of recommended searches provided by Yahoo! Video is limited, it is superior to Google because Google completely lacks any recommended searches once the search is performed.  Below is an image of Yahoo! Video’s “People Who Searched For Boogie Nights Also Searched For” results.

Results: Content and Presentation

Since Yahoo! uses Bing on the back-end to retrieve search results[2],  Bing and Yahoo! results are nearly identical.  That said, because Yahoo! creates its own content regularly, it first retrieves its own videos before using outside sources.

The images presented to represent search results are not descriptive until hovered over by the cursor.  The initial information provided is simply the title, length, and how long ago it was posted.  Once the the thumbnail is hovered over, the source and a portion of the description are shown.  Having to scroll over the image to view the description is inconvenient, but the descriptions tend to be longer than Google’s descriptions.

Additional Features:  Homepage

One of Yahoo! Video’s most interesting features is the Video homepage.  On the homepage, content is divided into the categories “Latest in Videos”, “Featured in Sports”, “Featured TV Shows”, and “Featured in Movie Trailers”.  Also, at the bottom of the homepage “Trending Now” and “Recommended Topics” searches are presented.  Again, this is a feature that Google lacks, making Yahoo! Video superior in this regard.

How to get the most out of it

  • Allow instant recommendations to guide the initial query in spelling, structure, and word choice.
  • Use “Advanced Search” or Bing-style search operators to refine query inputs.
  • Similar to Bing, placing specific terms in quotes adds emphasis when retrieving results[3].
  • Do not filter results by time unless absolutely necessary.
  • To change the amount of adult content, alter the SafeSearch settings.
  • Create a Yahoo! account to save SafeSearch settings.


Ask Instructions

How to Use

1.  Enter text into search bar and notice the instant recommendations with each entered character.

2.  Once a search has been entered, users are directly sent to the most relevant result.  Videos from the queue to the right of the main video automatically play in order.  To change this order, users can sort by “Relevance” or “Date”, making the first video either the most relevant or most recent.

3.  To view other content, users can enter a different query or select a link from the bottom of the page to search a general video category.

4.  Just as with the manual query, these topic specific search results play automatically.  In addition to providing subcategory queues such as the Celebrity queue pictured below, other “Top” recommended videos are presented under the main video.

Comparison with Google Web search

Search Process and Results: General

While Google offers filters to refine search results, Ask offers only the query bar for inputting search terms and phrases.  Similarly, search operators are not useful with Ask, worsening results rather than improving them. From these two major weaknesses, the quality of Ask’s results are substantially inferior to Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The approach used by Ask to immediately play a queue of results after entering a search is a poor feature.  As opposed to the freedom offered by Google that allows users to navigate a full list of results, alter and filter queries, then select a video to watch, Ask simply plays the first video result.  This technique is unsatisfactory because the first result is rarely the best result, making this feature more of an annoyance than a time-saver.

Additional Features:  Homepage

With results powered by blinkx.com[4], Ask utilizes this technology on the homepage with their version of blinkx’s “the wall”.  This wall of videos displays different videos according to which theme is selected.  In addition to the wall of recommended content, “Video Categories” provide queues of themed videos.

Since Google Videos does not have a homepage of trending or themed videos, Ask is clearly superior in this regard.  Also, because the wall is so unlike features provided by Bing or Yahoo!, the novelty of the wall is a major advantage of using Ask for casual video search.

How to get the most out of it

  • Interact with the wall as a form of entertainment.
  • Allow instant recommendations to guide the initial query in spelling, structure, and word choice.
  • To change the amount of adult content, adjust the filtering options.


Of the three video search engines discussed, Bing is the clear overall winner.  Benefiting from an entertaining homepage, convenient search features, and recommendations throughout the search process, Bing Videos is very well constructed. While Bing offers the most features, it lacks one very important aspect: video descriptions.  Video descriptions assist in the search process by helping users avoid misleading video titles and thumbnails, saving valuable time.

Despite its one major flaw, Bing should be used for almost all searches.  For example, when searching for videos with closed captions or that were posted during a certain time period, Google Videos is the best search engine.  In addition, when searching for original content, especially concerning entertainment news, Yahoo! Video should be used because Yahoo! produces much more original content than Bing.  Aside from these specific examples, Bing should be used for all other searches.  Moreover, to get the most out of Bing Videos, be sure to utilize the tips mentioned earlier.


Google Video, http://www.google.com/videohp: This is a site used for comparisons.

Bing Video, http://www.bing.com/videos/browse: This is a site the chapter is based on.

Yahoo! Video, http://video.search.yahoo.com/: This is a site the chapter is based on.

Ask Video, http://www.ask.com/videos?o=0&l=dir&qsrc=321: This is a site the chapter is based on.

About the author

Adrian Halim is a junior BBA candidate at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.  His area of study is finance and he plans to pursue a career in investment banking.  In his spare time he enjoys watching films with his younger brother Matthew.

  1. http://bk4a.com/bit330f2012/lesson-unit/1666/video-search-major-web-search-engines
  2. http://bk4a.com/bit330f2012/lesson-unit/1666/video-search-major-web-search-engines
  3. http://bk4a.com/bit330f2012/lesson-unit/1666/video-search-major-web-search-engines
  4. http://bk4a.com/bit330f2012/lesson-unit/1668/specialized-video-search-sites


To Google or not to Google? Copyright © 2013 by Scott A. Moore. All Rights Reserved.