As consumer demand for online video swells, AOL announced Tuesday that it has acquired Truveo, a provider of video search, to boost its capabilities in this area, considered one of the hottest segments of the search engine market.Truveo, founded in January 2004, has developed a "crawling" technology that, it says, allows it to find and index Web video content that remains invisible to conventional Web spiders.Truveo calls its technology "Visual Crawler" because the company says it can detect video content by identifying visual characteristics, similarly to how a human does it.Truveo's approach also allows it to automatically compile and retrieve descriptive information about the videos it indexes. By capturing this metadata, such as a video clip's date, length, title, director and producer, Truveo makes the content of its index easier to search, according to the company."This is a very thorough way of finding video content," said Allen Weiner, a Gartner analyst.Weiner sees the Truveo technology as complementary to AOL's existing multimedia search engine, Singingfish, which indexes content via XML feeds and content metatags.The Truveo deal also reinforces other recent AOL initiatives in this space, such as its partnership with Internet TV provider Brightcove and its joint development with Kontiki of the high-quality Hi-Q video playback format, Weiner said."AOL is emerging as the number one video portal, without a question," he said. "AOL has the pieces in place to be most powerful video portal out there."It remains to be seen how AOL's recent agreement to collaborate with Google on video search will fit into this overall picture, Weiner said.AOL plans to integrate Truveo's technology into its video search services in the coming months.Details of the planned technology integration are still being worked out, said Tim Tuttle, Truveo's CEO and co-founder. When it's completed, users will see "an improvement in the quality, relevance and timeliness" of AOL's video search results, Tuttle said.Tuttle and Truveo CTO and co-founder Adam Beguelin will remain at the helm of the 12-person organization as vice presidents within AOL, he said. They had intended to build Tuttle as a standalone company, but in the second half of last year they saw the market for online video gather tremendous speed. At that point they decided that in order to develop the Truveo technology quickly enough, they needed to align themselves with a company with deep resources. AOL is a "perfect match" because video search is such a priority for it, Tuttle said.Ted Tagami, CEO of Universus, a new ad agency that works with creators of independent media, cheered the news because Truveo does a very good job of indexing not only mainstream video content, but also content from independent producers, he said. "This move is definitely welcome," said Tagami, whose company's clients include Web sites such as Rocketboom.com, an irreverent daily news Web cast that has gained a large following.AOL's acquisition of the privately held start-up closed in December. Financial details aren't being released.