TwitVid adds real-time video search, virtual gifts, analytics tools

twitvidBecause Twitter doesn’t host video or images, only text, several startups have set up shop to do video hosting for Twitter users. TwitVid — not to be confused with TwitPic, an image-hosting service — is one of them. It lets you login with your Twitter username, upload video clips to their site (you can upload a video file or record live from a webcam), and automatically tweet a link to the video on Twitter with some accompanying text.

But with other companies, including Yfrog, providing similar services, TwitVid is announcing several new tools today to give itself the lead. Here they are:

Real-time video search — The ability to search content posted less than a minute ago on social networks is one of this year’s big ideas. Yet Google and other big search engines have been slow to add real-time search results. That gives TwitVid a window of opportunity with its new search engine for videos linked from Twitter to TwitVid. (My guess is that real-time results haven’t tested well in focus groups, because the technology to present only relevant, interesting results has not yet been perfected.)

I haven’t had a chance to evaluate TwitVid’s search, so I can’t give it a rating. For now, the concept itself is worth a test drive.

Virtual gifts — Virtual goods have proven to be a challenge to advertising as a means of monetizing an online service. Game maker Zynga claims to make 90 percent of its money from virtual goods.

TwitVid actually debuted its gifting service in November, in conjunction with a music video premiere on the site by Disney star Demi Lovato. The company claims her fans bought more than 1,200 virtual gifts ranging from teddy bears to kisses. Celebrities, not friends, are the largest recipients of gifts.

twitvid-analyticsAnalytical tools — One way TwitVid hopes to attract and keep heavy video-tweeters is with its graphic analytics that show how many times a video was viewed, and from where. Users can see traffic divided up by either geographic location, or by Internet domain. The tools show who are a video’s top linkers and plots a traffic timeline that can extend from a day to months.

TwitVid has already proven successful at attracting celebrity uploaders. The company’s current A-list includes Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, The Jonas Brothers, The Used, Dane Cook, Demi Moore, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Alexa Chung, Ciara, Stephen Fry, Mary J Blige, The Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA and the PGA.

There’s only one major risk TwitVid faces: Twitter could decide to make another service its chosen video host, just as the company switched from TinyURL to Bit.ly as its provider of URL shortcuts. But there’s also a potential upside: Twitter’s recent $100 million funding round means the company could buy or invest in TwitVid as its video host of record.

The site is produced by EatLime, a business created by two Waterloo University students, Mo Adham and Adil Lalani, in 2008. Since then, EatLime — now relocated to Sunnyvale in the heart of Silicon Valley — has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Amidzad Partners, and XG Ventures.

No matter what happens next, the key to TwitVid’s success will now be in execution — specifically, in how reliably and robustly it hosts videos. If it’s down a lot, people will go elsewhere. I know this is unfair, but TwitVid’s servers need to stay up a lot more than Twitter