Posted by: Marty Fahncke | October 14, 2007

Closed captions, alt-image tags and stupid marketers

Closed Caption Logo

Some marketers can be so penny wise and pound foolish.

Several times over my many years in the DRTV business, I’ve overheard or been a part of discussions about whether or not to closed caption (cc) infomercials and short form spots.

Many DRTV marketers I knew were too cheap to spend a few hundred dollars to close caption, thus shutting out over 20 million potential customers. Even commercials that were generating tens or hundreds of millions of dollars often wouldn’t get captioned.

This is the one of the stupidest business decisions a company can make, not to caption their TV advertising.

If you are an advertiser on TV, and your commercials aren’t captioned, you are alienating millions of Deaf and Hard of Hearing people across America…AND you are leaving money on the table!

From Deaf to Blind….

Now, Janice and Scott over at SiteEDGE Agency have pointed out that a similar situation is happening on the web with regard to alt-image tags and blind or visually impaired people. Someone is suing Target for not having alt-image tags on their web site. Good for them!

An alt-image tag is essentially a descriptive word or phrase that a web site can have as a description for a picture or image. If the image appears normally, the alt text is invisible. However, blind people have software which “reads” them the alt-image description with a computerized voice, so the person surfing the page can know what is there.

As with the closed captioning issue, I’ve consulted with dozens of companies who don’t have alt-image tags in place on their website. It never ceases to amaze me now many websites don’t have this in place.

By not placing alt-image / alternate text copy on their websites, many business owners are cheating themselves by not tagging their images.


#1 – Your site will be more user-friendly to blind and visually impaired visitors
#2 – If you have server problems or slow internet connections which might cause your pages to only partially load, your web site will show nice text descriptions, instead of that dreaded “red x”
#3 – There is evidence that quality image tags can improve your search engine rankings, thus bringing you more traffic and customers

Bottom line:

  • If you are advertising on TV, spend the few hundred bucks to caption your ads
  • If you have a website, go through the entire site and add alt-image tags ASAP

(PS – The “CC” image above is courtesy of, which I located through Google image search because the image had an alt-tag which said “closed captions”. See, image tags CAN bring more traffic to your site!


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