There’s been a lot made of Google’s recent announcement that it would use speech-to-text technology to caption videos on YouTube. The search giant’s initiative will make more video available to the hearing impaired and deaf. Captioning videos also will provide search engines with a wealth of data, creating new road maps to content and highlighting yet another route -- hopefully -- to monetization for companies looking to drive ROI on their online video efforts.
Google’s not the only company speeding into the speech-to-text search game; PLYmedia says it will begin using human -- GASP! -- stenographers to caption online videos on Ooyala, Ustream, Livestream, Brightcove, Kaltura, KIT and Kyte.
To a degree, both are coming late to the speech-to-text party. RAMP (nee EveryZing) has been translating video to searchable text since its spinoff from BBN Technologies Corp. in 2006 -- after a brief fling as Podzinger, during which it used its natural language processing capabilities to search podcasts -- producing meta data, tagging and creating time-stamped transcripts of videos for its clients.
While the accuracy of speech-to-text technologies varies widely, RAMP’s technology was developed based on $100 million in government R&D; it’s recognized as the most accurate in the world.
RAMP takes transcription a couple of steps further as well. Its ability to apply natural language processing against those transcripts to create contextual relevance – in addition to key word relevance – gives RAMP a leg up. CEO Tom Wilde said the platform has evolved over the past couple of years, beyond simply being a tool for video optimization.
“We decided that it made sense to really promote the content optimization abilities when we built the next version of the platform,” said Wilde. The resultant RAMP “takes a holistic view of content optimization,” bundling various tools like site search, video SEO and a video player into a single offering. “Content optimization is the key attribute RAMP has to offer,” he said. “It has achieved scale with major media websites, developing (them) into cohesive platforms.”
RAMP currently counts among it clients some significant heavyweights, including CNBC, Comcast, Fox News, Fox Sports and NBC Universal. With an entry price in the six-figures, you’ve got to be a major player to use RAMP -- at the moment.
“Our perspective is that ultimately all companies eventually will become media companies,” Wilde said. “Even if you sell jet engines or loading docks, you still need to think of yourself as a media company and make sure you are discoverable out in the web to optimize it. The optimization brings in additional verticals that are relevant to your business. We see folks increasingly relying on content to drive business.”
To address that, Wilde said RAMP likely will be looking to offer a scaled back product for the lower end of the the market in 2010, one that will help businesses get a solid ROI on their investments in video. If so, the company is likely to finally crack the $10 million revenue barrier it’s been chasing. In fact, Wilde is projecting RAMP will hit a cash-flow break even by the end of 2010. It also won’t hurt that the company recently won a Streaming Media Reader’s Choice award in the video search and indexing category.
The explosion -- and consumer acceptance -- of online video has forced companies to get up to speed quickly with their own media efforts, many with nary a clue as to their final destination. Speech-to-text options from companies like Google, PLYmedia and RAMP -- and richer search options -- may at least help with the journey. But, like anything else, the bigger your budget, the smoother the ride.- Jim