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You Tube Captioning – The Next Search Frontier?

24 November, 2009, Written by 0 comment

YouTube has recently announced the addition of “auto captioning” and “auto caption timing” . Video captioning has been available for a while but now it is extremely easy for viewers of some YouTube videos to automatically add their own text captions via Google’s voice recognition technology. The service is planned to expand and it seems likely that we will see more and more video results appearing in our regular search engine result listings as Google indexes these caption text files. For website owners this is yet another compelling reason why you should be considering YouTube video as part of your site promotion strategy.

There are two ways captions can be used. Firstly, users can simply choose “auto-captioning” and YouTube will take care of the rest. Of course, speech recognition has come a long way but it is still not perfect. For video owners who want more control over the “voice to text” process there is the second option of uploading a simple text file and choosing “auto-timing”. Google’s speech recognition technology will match what it hears to the text file you provided and show captions at the appropriate points in the video. This eliminates the previously time consuming processing of setting caption timestamps manually. Auto timing is available for all newly uploaded YouTube videos.

Another interesting point to know is that it is also possible for viewers to use auto-translation. YouTube will translate your captions on the fly from the original captions to whatever the target language might be. This means users who view videos in English can easily see captions in their language of choice. This opens up a larger market for your products and services. But once again, given the current state of auto-translation technology, if you are a video owner it might be better to take control of the process and generate your own language version caption files. For example if you know that a large share of your audience will be Japanese YouTube viewers, it would be wise to to create a professionally translated caption file.

Before long it seems inevitable that we will also see YouTube introducing context sensitive YouTube advertising. For example, when a speaker in the video mentions “acme gadgets”, a pop up ad will scroll up in the bottom of the video screen promoting where you can get the best deals.

Auto-captioning and auto-caption-timing are going to create a more accessible and searchable online video environment. This will aid not only the audio impaired, but also search engine robots to find and organize videos. No doubt many web marketing professionals and website owners are eager to add these features to their site promotion toolkits.

Sources:
YouTube adds speech recognition
Automatic captions in YouTube
Closed captioning search options

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