Video localization is the method businesses of all sizes are using to reach a global audience. It’s easy to see why:
In the very near future, it’s estimated that over 80% of all content will be in video format. But fewer than 1 in 5 people in the world understand English – even to a very low level.
Plus, the best content is designed to appeal to specific audiences. This means using your well-judged domestic video content for other global markets is never going to produce the same results.
That’s where video localisation comes in. It’s an increasingly cost-effective way to transform the videos you produce for everything from marketing to meetings, training to live events, so they can reach that global audience.
What is video localisation?
Video localisation is the process of adapting audiovisual content for specific international audiences.
The localisation process involves more than translating words that appear on the screen or spoken language that is part of your video. It’s about adapting every aspect of your content to the cultural norms and expectations of your target audience.
Localisation might include adapting everything from the images and imagery, actors, and even your underlying message or offer so that it appeals to a specific audience.
In some cases, this may be possible with only minor changes. In others, in order to make sure your communications are clear, inoffensive, and persuasive for a specific audience, you may need more extensive adaptation.
What video content should I localise?
The kind of video content that is suitable for localisation is wide-ranging. In short, if you are in or intend to enter overseas markets and you produce any kind of video content, localisation is vital.
Some of the most important types of video content that should be targeted for localisation include:
- Video advertising, marketing, and promotional content
- Product and service reviews, demos, and instructional materials
- E-learning, webinars, and other educational content
- Vlogs, interviews, live streams, and similar
What are the benefits of video localisation?
1) Expand your audience massively
Perhaps the biggest benefit of video localisation is the hugely expanded global reach. With the localisation process being so much more affordable and cost-effective than it has ever been before, it’s now possible even for SMEs to reach out to an international audience.
Plus, with YouTube and other streaming platforms having such widespread penetration, potential consumers around the world are more and more used to being able to access and rely on video content.
Localising your video is technically beneficial from an SEO standpoint too. Localised videos will be found more often and more easily by international audiences who will be searching for content like yours using different search terms.
They will be more likely to find content that has properly localised keywords, tags, descriptions, hosting, and the like.
2) Talk to your market persuasively
Such is the power of video content. But it’s no good reaching out to your audience if you’re not speaking their language – both literally and in the form of what is natural and compelling culturally.
That’s where the localisation process comes in. Because if you want to really leverage the power of video, you need to adapt yours to individual markets. Otherwise, you’re essentially shouting loudly – and potentially offensively – and demanding people pay attention to you.
But properly localised, your video content can reach out to your new international audience just as persuasively and interactively as it does for you domestically – delivering on those high intention rates the medium is famous for.
3) Influence the decision-making process dramatically
Around 9 in 10 consumers in recent surveys have said that product videos and related audiovisual content inform their decision as to which product they are going to buy.
That’s the reason why around 87% of businesses in the UK use video content in one form or another. That’s shot up even in the past few years, as the true power of video becomes better and better understood.
YouTube alone has over 2 billion active monthly users. That’s an unimaginably large market even if you can corner only a tiny fraction of it.
4) Adapt to internet demographic change sensibly
Roughly 20% of the world’s population speaks English. It’s been the lingua franca of the internet since the technology’s inception, but it’s not going to stay that way for long.
Internet user demographics are changing. Latin America alone has gone from around 380 million users to around 470 million in a three or four-year period.
Now is the time to get ahead of this particular curve. Businesses that want to appeal to a global audience today and in the future cannot rely on English alone if they want to do so with anything like real effectiveness.
5) Communicate internally as well as externally
But video localisation isn’t only a marketing tool. Many businesses localise things like online meetings and live events to keep themselves connected internally – especially in times when remote working and distributed workplaces are becoming more of a norm.
This may include Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) services for live events. But it can include localising videos after-the-fact to enable idea and information sharing too.
How to localise video content – tips and strategy
1) Analyse before you adapt
Just how much adaptation is your video content going to need in order to be effective in its purpose when deployed in your chosen target market?
Without expert local knowledge, it can be difficult to tell. Work with a cultural and linguistic specialist to analyse the visuals and imagery, soundtrack and music, voiceover, and graphical elements of your video before you plan what needs to be adapted.
Everything needs to be assessed from a cultural angle. For instance, a customer service training video intended for a Japanese audience would need to display a very different greeting than one intended for a UK audience.
This is true even for your product or service itself. If your product is completely unsuitable for your new audience, even the most effective video localisation is unlikely to achieve the results you’re looking for.
2) Understand your target market
Even the biggest brands have made major missteps when deploying video content in foreign markets. These missteps – which are always immensely costly – are almost universally the result of a failure to understand the local culture.
It’s always worth working with local cultural and linguistic specialists if you want your video content to be effectively adapted for this specific audience.
3) Build localisation into your content creation process
Creating content with localisation in mind from the very start is the best way to keep the process resource-effective in terms of cost and time required.
With a script that can be easily translated by your Language Service Provider (LSP) or in-house translation team and video content that is designed to be as culturally naturally as possible, you can minimise costs.
Also otherwise, having a localisation process that is built into the way you create content of all kinds – for internal or external use – will ensure the process is as streamlined as possible.
4) Choose your target markets with care
Whether it’s the suitability of your product or service for the culture or the level of demand, technological penetration, or other vital factors in a specific market, understanding local conditions is very important before you invest in localisation is critical.
Again, that’s where local specialists – whether in-house or from your LSP – are a vital resource. Always do your research when choosing specific global markets to reach out to with your business in general and your video content in particular.
5) Define your budget
Video localisation is more cost-effective than it has ever been. But it’s also important to manage costs and to choose the most suitable localisation method for you, with both the purpose of your content and your budget in mind.
What is the most cost-effective video localisation option?
There are several methods available to localise the linguistic parts of your video. The most suitable choice for you will depend on several factors, though cost-effectiveness often plays a major role:
1) Voice-overs and dubbing
Dubbing or voice-overs involve overlaying or replacing the original audio track with a new version intended for your new market.
- Voice-over – tends to be narrative. It’s most suitable for instructional content and some kinds of advertising.
- Dubbing – is usually designed to replicate the original (or a carefully adapted version of the original) audio performance. There are several “levels” of dubbing, with full lip-sync dubbing being the most expensive but also the most natural and effective.
Both dubbing and voice-over are often more expensive than the other methods listed here as they include things like the work of voice actors and studio time.
The full process of creating high-quality dubbing or voice-overs will also include the professional translation of your original script – or the transcription of your original live recording and then its translation.
Yet both of these approaches have serious advantages over methods like subtitling and captions when it comes to generating audience engagement.
2) Subtitles and captioning
Subtitles and captioning can be viewed as the more cost-effective option. Yet, they have unique and important advantages of their own.
For example, consider social media platforms where videos play automatically but silently. Here, captions that explain to a viewer what is happening are vital to engagement. They are also excellent for multilingual audiences (including internal ones), where subtitles or captions in one language can support audio delivered in another.
Subtitles, captions, or a transcript of your video content are all also searchable by search engine spiders, whereas video content alone is not. This has great advantages for your multilingual SEO.
Subtitles or captions can be provided over the top of the original audio performance. Or they can be part of a more cohesive and complete video localisation effort that includes the localisation and re-recording of the audio track and the visuals too. The key difference between captions and subtitles is:
- Captions (whether closed or open) – describe all of the audio parts of a video, including things like sound effects and the music track. This also makes them great for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
- Subtitles – purely relate to the vocal or spoken part of a performance. This might mean the voice-over or narration or what the actors on-screen are saying.
How to reach a global audience with video localisation
Soon, 9 in 10 companies will be using video content for internal or external communication purposes. The reasons to do so are obvious:
Video content has been proven to be incredibly powerful and effective on its own. With video localisation included though, you get a hugely expanded reach, the ability to appeal to specific global markets, a powerful internal and external communication tool, and you’re smartly managing current and future changes in internet consumer demographics besides.
When you choose the most effective method – subtitles and captioning subtitles and dubbing, or both – and make sure you analyse your content first, choose your target markets carefully, and proceed only after proper market research, you will be all set to reach a truly global audience with video localisation.