Milengo leverages Google Translator Toolkit with Google Adwords Machine Translation translation jobs
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Milengo leverages Google Translator Toolkit with Google Adwords

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CSN interviews Adam Blau, Rebellion Leader at Milengo

Adam Blau photoLast month when Milengo announced they had been selected by Google as an official localization vendor to help open translation accessibility to millions of users globally we contacted Adam Blau, Rebellion Leader at Milengo, for comment...


Adam, how and why did Milengo first get involved with Google Translator Toolbox?


Just to make it clear, Google does not endorse us in any way.

ClientSide News Magazine pictureGoogle Translator Toolkit had been around for a little while and in late 2008, early 2009 at Localization World in Silicon Valley Google gave a presentation showcasing the tools’ improvements. By then they had reached a performance level that seemed to be a good fit for us so we started experimenting and exploring with it. Since we don’t provide our own technology we can work very flexibly with other types of tools, like Google Translator Toolkit, that perhaps other companies might not be so interested in working with.

We became very active in trying out the tool and invested quite a bit on our side to see how Google Translator Toolkit would work. Early on, we had to initiate our own projects using the technology and also build up our resource pool to show Google that we were serious about using it and that we fully expected to see productivity benefits.

Our translators were open to the idea too but they were only willing to accept it after they experienced the benefits for themselves through actual project work. We just can’t force something new on our translators, we can’t require them to do a certain thing that they may not want to do if we want them to continue to work for us. So we told them; "this is an investment were going to make, we’re going to pay you to work with it, and then you can tell us what kind of productivity you really find." After the first project we were pleased to see that the productivity was where we thought it would be, it was what we had anticipated, and so we were able to do more and more projects with it from then on.

So I think Google selected us because they knew we understood the technology and workflow, and had already invested heavily in the process.


What are some of the unique benefits of working with Google Translator Toolkit?


Adam Blau photoWhat’s great about Google Translator Toolkit, I’ll just call it GTT, is that it’s free, it has its own API so it allows us to easily integrate it into our project management workflow and the workflows are well defined, you can upload a glossary, the workflow is all online, and all you need to do to work with it as a translator is get a Gmail account. It takes away a lot of the need for back and forth activity, the workflow automation is right in the program.


Adam, can you give me an example of a typical project where the GTT can be highly effective?


An area of specialty we manage for some customers is Google Adwords. This is a segment that from our perspective is not heavily requested by customers because it is by nature very repetitive. For example, if you’re an online discount travel website and you’re building your search inventory with all relative words and phrases like; "cheap hotel Berlin," "cheap hotel Barcelona," etc., etc. With a typical translation project process it could become quite costly. A worldwide company like this engaged in a huge campaign could easily have 200,000 to 400,000 words to translate. What we found here is that when we’re doing projects like Adwords for example the GTT greatly increases productivity because the machine translation engine translated very well.

If you’re an advertiser with Google there is a native Adwords format that you can send as a Word file or any file you want to a translation company and the GTT can incorporate those files very easily. There’s not really any engineering involved, there’s no file separation, little manual work, you can assign multiple translators to the project and the project management effort needed is much, much lower. You still have to coordinate resources but it’s not a typical translation project where you have to segment files or do a lot of file engineering in order to get going. It’s really simple.


With all the other MT tools out there what really separates Google Translator Toolkit from the pack?


I think what is exciting about Google Translator Toolkit is that it comes from a player outside of the industry. Everybody within our industry talks about innovation but Google is not a translation company. Google saw that the translation industry was not providing a solution that was needed so they developed the technology themselves and I have to commend them for that. Google’s aim of course is to enable language search, to enable language to be more incorporated in the way companies work. I’m not aware of any other tool available today in the market that is also free, allows you to translate online, and incorporate translators for free. They might be out there; I know there are very expensive professional tools that are similar but without all the functionality that this tool offers.

What we’re seeing with the GTT has enabled us to think outside the box and provide customers with an easier way of having discoverability. For example; a customer receives files of customer user surveys or internal employee surveys in multiple languages. They really have no idea what it says because they only speak English. They could use a professional company to translate it for them but the cost would be pretty high so it would probably be a little out of budget or they could use an online translation tool such as Google’s.

So in this scenario we’re giving them the ability to run it through the GTT and then provide some light post-editing allowing the customer to discover their content much more cost-effectively. This process is enabling us to actually develop new business models where content that would not have been translated or edited in the past is actually getting a second consideration because the price point has come down to an acceptable level. We don’t have to pay for licenses, it’s free, it’s available, and the technology is good.

Of course GTT is not appropriate for enterprise product software, marketing projects, or the like but it’s really great for things that would not have been translated in the past. In that sense we see new opportunities for Adwords with marketing departments who don’t necessarily have employees around the world to manage their campaigns. With this they can translate more Adwords, display more ads, and decrease their costs.


What about proprietary and confidential content, we know Google typically aggregates all information that’s fed into its various engines. Is this also true of Google Translator Toolkit?


Yes that’s accurate. I don’t think Google is reading the material, it just gets included in the system like everything else to help improve the engine. So that is a limiting factor in our ability to use GTT. For customers who want to keep their information confidential this is not an appropriate tool. In these cases our clients make it clear to us that their information is confidential and is not to be aggregated into the system. I completely understand that so we always ask the customer if they are okay with us using GTT for their project.

Really this is just another option, another technology that we can offer. We are limiting it to certain types of documents which are not confidential in nature, Google Adwords, internal communications, and any kind of process where we just need to have discoverability. Now I know that there are other companies out there using GTT for a major part of their translation work and if they don’t have any qualms with how it works or what information is being dispersed they have a pretty industrial-strength product to work with.

One of its great advantages is how it decreases price by reducing the time it takes to translate. The quotes we lose are not to competitors but to projects that don’t get approved due to cost. So we can utilize this technology with a workflow that enables us to bring the price point down to where the customer will actually move forward on those kinds of previously killed projects.


How do you see this ultimately affecting the translators?


How I see this is that there’s not enough translators out there. It takes a long time and it’s very expensive to become a quality translator. So as a new generation of translations come about, post-editing becomes just as important as translating. At the same time, which I really do believe, as machine translation post-editing is adopted on a much greater scale human translation will become much more important and valuable. The quality, the price, and the recognition of human translation will be at a much higher premium in the future because as more and more companies begin using machine translation there will be that many more projects created for high quality, human translation.


Thanks for your time and insight Adam!

Final Takeaway...

One of the great things about this technology is that it’s useful and affordable for anyone who wants to increase or access international sales; a pharmaceutical company, online travel site, shoe company, or anybody who wants to sell in foreign markets.

The localization benefits of Google Translator Toolbox are further enhanced when combined with Google Adwords campaigning. This coupling provides instant gratification by identifying who is clicking links by geography and gauging interest level. Information derived can be immediately leveraged to determine which new markets will provide greater returns on additional localization investment including post-editing and ultimately high-quality, human translation. Even a small company with a very tight budget can still leverage these technologies to test and enter foreign markets.


Adam Blau directs the global marketing and customer relationship strategies of the Milengo family across North America, Europe and Asia

As the company’s sales leader of more than 7 years, Adam coordinates research and development initiatives in support of major international accounts and represents Milengo in its business partnerships with key localization technology providers worldwide. His critical perspective on structural and workflow improvements in client systems generates a solid return on investment in localization and strengthens their positions in global language markets.

In addition to company operations, Adam speaks at localization conferences and trade fairs to extend Mi-lengo’s reach into the IT, Communications and eLearning industries.

Prior to joining Milengo, Adam worked at Collaborate Communications, an international branding and communications agency. He is a graduate of Bates College with a dual major in Economics and German.

Published - June 2012

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