Thursday, October 12, 2006

Crowdsourcing via Tags for YouTube Content Ads

In How Google Should Monetize YouTube With AdWords & AdSense, JenSense laments that:
On the non-video advertising front, Google could easily supply contextually targeted ads based on keywords added by members when they upload the video. However, as you have probably noticed, YouTube is also filled with keyword spam, where members stuff a huge amount of keywords into their video descriptions so they show up for terms the video has nothing about.
What if instead of relying on the title, description or tags provided by the video uploader/creator, Google instead relied on the intelligence of the crowd to determine the relevant keywords for a given video? Presumably, popular videos are bookmarked on web 2.0 sites like When bookmarking, most users take advantage of tags to help organize the information for later retrieval. Those tags could be more reliable than the information provided by the video uploader since the bookmarker would need the information to be highly relevant to be useful for finding the video at a later date. Google could identify the common, overlapping tags that users create when bookmarking. A simple example might help. See this video on YouTube:

Here is the user uploaded information:
  • Title: Real Life Simpsons Intro
  • Description: Someone went through a lot of trouble to very accurately depict the Simpsons intro with real life actors.
  • Tags: Simpsons Intro Opening Credits Real Life Actors
That's probably a sufficient amount of keywords for Google to match content ads to keyword lists in advertisers' AdWords ad groups. The question, though, is whether this information could be manipulated by spam techniques such as keyword stuffing. Let's look at some tags for this video created by users (I'm just randomly grabbing 8 users' tags because, after all, "eight is enough"):
  1. video simpsons funny humor tv
  2. video simpsons funny fun tv
  3. video simpsons fun humor movies
  4. video funny tv simpsons humor
  5. video simpsons funny youtube humor
  6. simpsons video real
  7. video humor simpsons
  8. funny simpsons
Looking at the tag distribution for these social bookmarks:


(Sort of like an ad: Tired of all of this Google-YouTube coverage? Play a game of TagMan. It's a fun way to browse the popular tags on!)

What if Google simply used the core, common keywords for contextual matching? Would these sponsored links (simpsons + video) be relevant to the video? Using a couple more tags, would Google's contextual matching algorithm have enough data to work on if it used simply these keywords: simpsons + video + funny + humor? Maybe their domain parking program which "delivers targeted, conceptually related advertisements to parked domain pages by using Google’s semantic technology to analyze and understand the meaning of the domain names" might be a better fit. That's a bit of a hybrid between search advertising and contextual advertising, anyway. Presumably that primarily looks at the keywords in the domain name. A handful of relevant keyword tags chosen for bookmarks might be just as relevant or even more so than a domain name.

Particularly for popular videos, this technique might work since there would likely be a large pool of users who socially bookmarked the videos with meaningful tags. The popular videos would be the ones Google and YouTube would want to run relevant, contextual ads alongside anyway, so this would be a virtuous circle. Let me know what you think. (Or just play a game of TagMan.)

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