MetaCafe & YouTube to Use UGC To Improve Video Search?

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As you likely have heard, Youtube recently a new annotations feature that basically enables video creators to add add background information to a video hosted on Youtube. You can also use the annotations to link to related YouTube videos, channels, or search results from within a video.

metacafe wikicafeJust this past weekend, Metacafe announced a new feature and beta wiki platform called Wikicafe beta program. With this new program, registered users will be able to collaborate with online videos and will have the ability to edit, enhance, and even translate video tags, descriptions, and other types of metadata. You can translate the metadata into one of 6 different languages (Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, German, and Hebrew).

So, the real question is… what is the driving force behind the decision to add these user generated content (UGC) features to online video websites? Are Youtube and Metacafe simply doing their best to add cool new features that users have asking for? Or, is there another reason for these new features?

As Eugene points out on the Reactive Software Blog,

“So far Computer Vision specialists from all around the world have been tackling the recognition, tagging and ranking problem for the videos. We know how to index and rank text-based information, but how do we do the same for videos, sounds, images? At the moment factors that influence search rank of the videos are mostly based on the information outside the video, e.g. video tags, video title, video filename, text surrounding the video, text of the links to the video and user rating. Theoretically, a totally irrelevant video can have a high ranking in the search results if the information surrounding the video is relevant to the searched subject.”

We already know the power and the effect that having UGC surrounding a video (comments, ratings, etc…) can have on video SEO as it adds relevant textual content to the video page.

So, it makes sense that enabling user generated content for in-video content can also be used by the search engines to better understand the videos and provide a more quality video search platform. Unlike metadata that is currently used to rank videos (titles, descriptions, tags, etc…), the annotations from Youtube and the features in the Wikicafe allow users to add relevant textual data within the online video itself. Rather than relying on automated object recognition technologies, these search engines are harnessing the power of their audience of users to better understand the content within the video file and enhance their video search algorithms.

That being said, it does not appear that Youtube is using the annotations currently to serve video search results. I have experimented with several videos that have annotations and have searched for these videos by the text displayed in the annotations, and at this point, Youtube returns 0 results. I think it is fairly obvious that annotations could be used to enhance video search. Certainly the search engines would be silly not to take advantage of this for enhancing video search. You can bet that they are.

Metacafe highlights the following benefits right on their site:

  • Your edits help us understand what you like and how videos are related to each other.
  • Better titles, tags, and descriptions give better search results and more views to videos.

Here is an example of the Youtube annotations in action:

Here is a video regarding the new Beta Wikicafe program:

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