Thursday, March 4, 2010

YouTube to Auto-Caption Videos

From TechCrunch:

In November of last year, the company began to roll out auto-captions on a limited scale, which use speech recognition to automatically transcribe what’s said in a video. And now, it’s going to enable the feature for all videos uploaded to YouTube where English is spoken.
This move will engender a lot of goodwill for Google, and rightly so, for enabling deaf people to consume video content that they otherwise couldn't. Even if the transcription is poor (and I've seen some pretty bad transcripts from humans covering live events), it's better than nothing.

More importantly, this will give Google more text to scan and analyze. The system will have a better idea of what each video is about and therefore be better at suggesting related videos. It will also make it easier for Google to correctly target advertising based on the content of each video. More relevant advertising leads to higher clickthrough rates and more money for Google's bottom line.


Adam Gurri said...

Google could already scan and analyze the text without putting it out; if anything the fact that they are providing the text makes it easier for other search engines to crawl YouTube pages.

With the decision to put the transcriptions publicly on the pages, I have to think something else is going on. I think it's more about keeping YouTube competitive in an environment where other video hosts are pushing hard to try and enter their space. I've seen a lot of other players embedded around; from sites like vimeo or

YouTube is still king of the hill in this regard but it certainly won't stay there by standing still.

Greg said...

True, though I wonder if there would have been public backlash if Google had went to all of the effort to transcript video audio--which has huge value for deaf people--only to keep it to itself.

Adam Gurri said...

How would anyone have known? They could just have their voice recognition stuff automatically feed into their algorithm without saying a word to anyone about it.

Greg said...

A lot of secrets get out eventually (I was going to say most, though I guess there's no way of knowing), especially if they involve a group of people working on a complicated project.

I don't think Google would be opposed to making it easier for other search engines to crawl YouTube. This would only lead to more video views, wouldn't it?

Additionally, I don't think people would be able to rip off much of Google's caption algorithms just by viewing the transcripts.

Adam Gurri said...

The Google Algorithm is itself an example of a very well-kept secret. I think you're right about them wanting to get more traffic for YouTube, though.