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Video is hugely popular around the globe. Don’t limit yourself to your home market – allow video localization to expand your horizons. Here’s how.

Video is an unstoppable force.

It’s predicted that for the first time, people will spend more time on the internet (170.6 minutes per day) than watching TV (170.3 minutes) in 2019. And video will claim over 80% of the traffic.

They’re not just watching funny cat videos, either. 54% of consumers prefer video to other types of brand content. This means more engagement and more conversions, so it’s no wonder 81% of businesses used video in their marketing last year. If video doesn’t already feature in your marketing strategy, it may be time to reconsider – or risk being left behind.

But of course, crafting a video that goes viral in your home market is one thing. Getting your message across in every market is a whole other ball game.

That’s where video localization can help. Here are our top tips for success.

GETTING THE PICTURE

A picture can tell a thousand words. But the message viewers hear depends on their language, culture and location. To keep control of your story, consider the visuals in your source content.

It’s best to avoid images that tie your message to a specific location – like architecture, road signs and public facilities. Is the location relevant to your message or is it a distraction for viewers in other countries?

Think about the appearance and behaviour of people in your video too. For example, imagine a video of someone relaxing in a hammock. This could be tricky for Arabic cultures, where it’s rude to show the soles of your feet. Hand gestures are also culturally specific. A thumbs up is a cheerful sign in the UK, but it has pejorative connotations in parts of Greece, Italy, Western Africa and Latin America.

Expectations of video also vary per country. Want to show inspiring content to Germans? They’re mostly too cynical. Educational video? Colombians and Mexicans are 26% more likely to watch than consumers in the US.

Lastly, pay careful attention to reading speed. Aim to say roughly 150 to 180 words per minute. If you’re too fast, the localizer will need to cut words to keep up with you.

It’s worth addressing these potential issues when creating your source video. This ensures your message is just as effective overseas as it is at home. And it’s easier to fix things once, rather than once per market.

SOUND CHECK

You’ve got three options for video localization: dubbing, subtitling, or voiceover. What’s the difference?

In dubbed content, the original speech is completely replaced with a new actor’s voice in the translated language. You’ll need to pay careful attention to make sure lip movements are in sync.

Voiceovers preserve the original audio, adding a new voice that delivers the translation on top. You’ll probably recognize this format from TV news programmes.

Subtitles present the translation as on-screen captions, which means you don’t need to change the audio.

Many countries have set preferences for one specific method. France and Germany tend to prefer dubbing, whereas Belgium and Norway prefer subtitles. Many of these preferences were set shortly after WWII – and interestingly, no country in the OECD has switched since.

These preferences also have a strong link to English proficiency. Countries that feel more comfortable speaking English tend to prefer subtitles. This is a virtuous circle – subtitles tend to boost English-speaking skills in a country more than dubbing.

For example, the Netherlands and Austria spend a similar amount on education. 87% of the Dutch population feel confident holding a conversation in English, compared to 53% in Austria. Surprise, surprise, subtitling is more common in the Netherlands, whereas Austrians prefer to dub content.

The channel you publish your video on also has a role to play. For example, 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound. To succeed, you’ll need to get your message across without audio – which means subtitling is likely the best approach.

Whatever you choose, stay in your audience’s comfort zone to win their approval. But weigh up all the relevant factors before deciding which approach is best for your video localization.

BEING SEEN

SEO applies just as much to video as other content. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. And since it’s owned by Google, YouTube video content will rank well there too.

As with other content, incorporate relevant keywords to help customers find your video – in every market. This includes meta descriptions and titles.

For long-form video, provide a transcript as an easy way to engage users and boost rankings. And don’t forget to get the word out: on your website, blog, emails and so on.

Search isn’t the only factor though. On YouTube, searches account for only 15–25% of views. The rest come through the site’s suggestions. Boost your visibility by keeping key ranking factors like total watch time, audience retention and engagement top of mind when creating your video.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Video is here to stay, because people respond to it. Replacing a landing page image with a video increases conversions by 12.6%. And 90% of viewers say that product videos help them make purchase decisions.

But video is a global phenomenon, so don’t just restrict it to your home market. Instead, allow video localization to widen your global appeal. This doesn’t have to be a headache. Ask our expert team for help. We’d love to hear from you.