Searching videos for specific content is notoriously hard. Traditional video search looks at just titles and manually-entered tags—but not the video’s actual content. That makes it difficult (and time-consuming) to find specific moments like phrases mentioned by a speaker, words shown on-screen, or key topics covered in a video.

Worse still, that problem is magnified for longer videos like those 30- to 60-minute recordings so common to business training, university lectures, and organizational communications.

But not all video search engines are created equal.

Meet Smart Search by Panopto, the industry’s most comprehensive video search engine. With Panopto, you can search through your video library the same way you’d search across the internet, or through your email.

  • By any keyword spoken in your videos
  • By any word that ever appears on-screen or anywhere else in your video
  • By traditional and advanced metadata, including tags and titles, viewer notes and comments, and even speakers notes from your PowerPoint slides.

Panopto enables you to search across every video ever created in your library — new or old and whether or not it was recorded with Panopto — and get specific results that fast-forward to the exact moment the keyword occurs in your video.

How do other video platforms stack up when it comes to video search?

No one goes deeper or broader than Panopto when it comes to video search, as shown in the following chart.

Inside Video Search capabilities chart - Panopto Enterprise Video Platform

Related Reading: Comparing the Best Video Platforms of 2020


What are the important elements of video search?

There are two key parts to getting the best results from video search:

  • First, you need a tool that indexes as much of each video as possible.
  • Second, you need a tool that can search as much of your entire library as possible and make it easy to get to the exact relevant moment you were searching for.

Let’s take a look at the individual elements of video search:

What Content Does Your Video Search Engine Index?

  • Manual Metadata is the information added a video file such as title, author, and a description. Panopto goes further here, adding viewer notes and comments to our search index. These are a foundational part of video search, but almost never provide enough description to be useful by themselves for longer videos.
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology used to recognize text shown within videos. Because search engines like Google cannot recognize text that’s saved as an image, OCR technology exists to identify and decipher those words. When it comes to video, OCR is incredibly valuable because it allows your viewer to search for literally any word that appears on-screen or anywhere else in a video.
  • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is a different technology used to capture each word spoken in a recording. Since many viewers will be searching for a moment based on an idea or phrase they remember, ASR is an incredibly helpful addition to your video search engine.
  • Slide Content Ingestion refers to the technology can import and index your actual presentation slides when used in your video. Content Ingestion captures the full content of your slides — even speaker’s notes and tiny text so that your team can always find precise moments in video based on any word contained on any slide.
  • Optional Human Transcript offers the option of adding actual video captions to your search index. While not every video needs a transcript, this capability can be essential for organizations that want to provide additional detail, or that must comply with the Section 508 of the US Federal Rehabilitation Act.

Of course, indexing information is only valuable if you can use it to return relevant results. Let’s see how the industry approaches that requirement today:

How Can Your Users Search For Video Content?

  • Search Across Every Video in a Video Library sounds like it should be a fundamental attribute of every video platform, but not always. Some systems restrict users to only searching individual videos, or narrowly-defined subsections of the entire library. But limiting search limits the value of your video library. Although search results must take into account an individual user’s access controls (i.e. which videos they have permissions to view), in an age when access to information is everything, you want people in your organization to have broad access to institutional knowledge.
  • Search Inside a Video for Specific Content is where the rubber meets the road for all that information your video platform indexes. Relying on manually-appended metadata isn’t enough for most business and university video — a system needs to look inside the actual content of the videos and be able to return relevant results. Of course, the more content your system can index, the better your results will be.
  • One-Click Fast Forward to the Moment the Result Occurs is the final hurdle to great video search. A video platform should be able to link a viewer right to the specific, relevant moment they’ve searched for. Without this last step, that viewer can only hunt and peck through the video timeline — which can be a rather frustrating waste of time.
  • Mobile Apps that Enable Search Inside Video Content really should already be the norm in our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era, but they are sometimes still the exception. Your people need to be able to access your video from anywhere — even when out in the field or off-hours at home. As more and more people use both personal and work-issued mobile devices in getting their jobs done, video search simply must be a part of your video platform’s mobile apps.


There are a million reasons your organization needs great video content search.

In businesses, video search helps new hires find relevant training materials the moment they need them. It helps legal teams efficiently review video content. It helps teams quickly find best practices shared by other parts of the organization. It helps sales teams easily locate product or feature demo videos to share with clients. And it helps every employee easily seek out messages from executives, human resources, and anywhere else in the organization.

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In schools, video search helps students quickly find and review key parts of lectures, as well as supplement their studies with details from past or other classes. It helps professors quickly jump to critical parts of recorded lectures like student questions, so they may provide more details in a following session. And it helps faculty and staff easily access ideas and best practices too.

Smart Search by Panopto is the most comprehensive video search tool in the industry.

See it in action, in our Smart Search feature video below:



Ready to see what your video search has been missing? Contact our team today to try Panopto for free.

Published: November 06, 2017