Closed caption dating

Closed caption dating

So, being a YouTube partner means I have adverts placed next to videos I choose to monetize, and generally speaking Google AdSense (for it is AdSense which does that side of things) does a fair job of serving up vaguely relevant ads. But, being a computerised system, it doesn’t always guess properly.

I recently made a video about a relatively new YouTube feature, support for Closed Captions, and entered it for a competition (which I fully expect to win if nobody else enters). It’s a good video, although it could be better (because they always could), and it also provides an interesting insight into the inner workings of YouTube and AdSense.

First, you see, YouTube has to locate some videos it thinks are related to mine. In this case, because my video is about closed captions, YouTube looked for words like “caption”, “captioning” and its variants. What it came up with included no less than fourteen extracts from Barack Obama’s speeches. Why? Because they’ve all been captioned, and the video titles all include the word “(captioned)”, so you get the hint.

Then AdSense kicks in. AdSense analyzes not just titles and stuff, but all the text on the page. And it sees Barack Obama being mentioned no less than fourteen times on the same page. So here’s what AdSense came up with:

  • Mehr über Barack Obama (German for “More about…”)
  • Barack Obama
  • Find An African Date (woah — nice thinking, there)
  • Obama ’08 T-shirts

This is pretty much typical of the way computers work. They unthinkingly make what, on the face of it, are logical choices, but which turn out to be totally useless and unhelpful. Sort of electronic politicians, really.