It’s sad but true — we can measure the maturity of any market by the ways it gets manipulated. By that measure, according to the Wall Street Journal’s “Spam Hits Video Sites, Misleading Viewers” (paid subscription link), video search has arrived.
It seems the WSJ has discovered that many users are tagging their videos with irrelevant keywords, just to show up in popular searches. Imagine that.
For example, a recent search on Google Inc.’s YouTube site using a string of names of popular videogame devices — “Playstation Xbox Nintendo PSP” — turned up a nine-minute promotional clip for Argentine tourism, steamy shots of fashion models, footage of a parade in Germany and an apparently pirated clip of a concert by the band Queen.
The videos were there because the people who uploaded them to YouTube typed in hundreds of words to falsely describe them in the accompanying text — unrelated words ranging from the names of the game devices to a list of countries including “Brazil Bulgaria Canada.”
YouTube and Revver spokespeople each dismissed the effects of such spam as minimal, which is likely true. Right now, there’s not as much incentive to do it, since the spammer doesn’t stand to make money directly from someone viewing their videos. But that may change as video search engines explore new revenue models. The spam videos also stand little chance of getting enough high rankings to make the front page of most sites, or to appear high in search results.