AI in Multimedia Localization: How to Spot the Winners and Avoid the Scams
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During our research into multimedia localization – and all the new AI-enhanced tools that are sprouting up like toadstools after summer rain – we found many new offerings, some good or excellent, and many not-so. Startup companies with an excellent product may struggle with business processes and strategies; some are already leaders in a brand new field, unimagined a year ago; but too many others are aiming to get-rich-quick based on a worldwide appetite for tools that make everything possible very cheaply through AI. They seem to assume that you think AI is magic.
As soon as you search the internet for “video editing,” “presentation automation,” or “help with voiceover” not only are the search results full of sellers spoofing similar products, but all your social media feeds will be populated with ads for a million tools. It can be a tad overwhelming: which do you look at, which do you ignore? Based on a question raised after our multimedia presentation at LocWorld in Malmo, Sweden, and what we at CSA Research experienced during recent investigations, here’s a list of points to consider when performing due diligence on any new offering – not only multimedia.
- If it’s too good to be true, it is too good to be true (unless it’s open-source). Trust your instincts. Anything that offers a lifetime-unlimited-anything subscription fee of US$19 (special offer or not) is either highly overestimating its producer’s abilities, not rewarding its contributors fairly, or it’s simply a scam. Be very wary.
- Check out the provider before sharing any financial information. Look on LinkedIn to see if the company has a presence. Are there any employees listed? Do they seem like real people with valid work experience that can be verified? While startups begin with a very small team and the company may be tiny but valid, scam products may not bother to spoof an entire organization on business social media. Check out the CEO to confirm which other businesses or products they have listed – are they all very similar, with zero employees? Might be a genius or a warning flag.
- Investigate “about us” info. Typically listed on the company’s website, is there information about a headquarters address and/or satellite offices? Who is on the management team? Is there a support organization? Have they published any case studies with buyer names that you can check out? Not all startups share a physical location online and might still be valid, even without giving a street address.
- Find valid reviews. Look for unsponsored and independent reviews of the software – for example, ratings by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trust Pilot, YouTube software reviewers (who should state if they are talking about something they have been given for free), and other websites. Look at the one- and four-star reviews rather than the glowing five-stars. If all the top reviews use almost identical wording, it’s a bad sign. If the ad is on social media, see what others are saying – and how quickly any negative comments disappear. Also consider adding your own reviews, to help others.
- Be skeptical. If a website or app raises questions, search the web for “productname scam.” The results may help validate or strike the product from your list of candidates. But also note that sites such as ScamAdvisor will give a clean bill of health to products with zero reviews, simply based on their algorithmic analysis of a web address… so you may need to review the reviewers, too.
- Seek out free trials without credit cards. Some – by no means all – providers offer short-term trials without you having to provide banking info. This allows you to test the concept of a product without any risk to your finances.
- Beware of multiple products with similar ads and offers. Suites of products all with the same bargain price and impossible-to-ignore value statements may be one person’s get-rich-quick scheme based on a simple UI over AI-powered tools from the major platforms (AWS, Google, or Microsoft). There’s nothing wrong with adding-on to these cloud-based services, but a one-person shop offering twenty products with an unlimited offering of images, video, or voice can’t support a million users. However, a million times US$19 will allow them to retire in the sun and leave you with nothing but feeling daft for trusting the offer.
- Consider fair trade. If the service is for human-created animations, photos, or video clips, measure what you are expected to pay against what the person creating the content will earn. A lifetime’s access to a million snippets of creative work for US$49? I would probably give that one a pass.
- Calculate how the product scales. If you are testing a solution that may later be implemented by your entire company, find out how both the functionality and the costs will grow based on your organization’s needs. Is there an enterprise price offering, with extra functions, or is it case-by-case?
- Watch your bank account. We saw some “inventive” accounting during our research, associated with team members using the same product. If you sign up for a trial subscription to a new tool, keep an eye on your money. Companies with immature accounting functions may make honest errors – scammers just do it on purpose. Most banks enable notifications of outgoing payments; keep an eye open for any unexpected payment activity and take immediate action with any discrepancies.
- Don’t discount open-source software. There are some very cool products out there for free, or where you can make a contribution in cash or code. Even if functions are limited, an open-source product may allow you to test the feasibility of a process change before you’re ready for a full-scale investigation of available tools. It may even prove to be the best solution.
Don’t let any of this put you off trying new tools – there are some excellent offerings out there, using AI to simplify and optimize processes and enabling the creation, localization, and delivery of content in ways that have previously been impossible due to cost and time restrictions. Just be diligent in investigating what you (really) get for your money. Right now, with all the interest in GenAI and automation, plus entrepreneurs seizing on an opportunity to deliver exciting new offerings, it’s hard to find the diamond in the pile of broken glass. Try not to get hurt finding the treasure.
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