Why Every Company Should Invest in Video Subtitle Translation

Last Updated August 19, 2021

subtitle translation

Video content is most effective when it reaches the greatest number of people. You’re missing out on marketing opportunities if you’re not investing in subtitles and their translation.

Video marketing has been growing rapidly, and it’s here to stay.

Approximately 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool in 2021—up from 61% in 2016.

Why? Because 84% of people say that they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a company’s video.

Of those businesses who’ve adopted video as part of their marketing strategy, 99% said they’ll continue using video in 2021. And 96% of respondents will either increase (67%) or maintain (29%) their spend.

There’s no denying the prevalence of video marketing, so you’re missing out on opportunities for growth by relying only on traditional text-based web content.

You want to create video content that resonates with as many people as possible, therefore increasing the possibility of sales. Adding subtitles to your videos makes them more accessible to the hard of hearing and will help you reach more diverse audiences through the added step of translation.

Let’s take a deeper look at what we mean by subtitle translation, and why businesses of all sizes should prioritize it in their marketing efforts and product tutorials.

What is subtitle translation?

Subtitle translation involves taking an original video in a source language and layering it with written text in a target language.

For example, if you create a video in English, but want to use it in Germany, the audio needs to be transcribed. The translated text is then added to the video for it to be read by speakers of the secondary language.

A great example of subtitle translation done right is TED. Their goal is to make sure all their informative and educational videos are accessible to as many people as possible.

Here’s their process:

  • TED provides an original transcript for all TED and TED-Ed content.
  • Subtitles are translated from the original language into the target language, using a dynamic subtitle editor.
  • Before publication, subtitles are reviewed by an experienced volunteer.
  • Once reviewed for quality and accuracy, subtitles are published directly to the TED.com video player and YouTube for the world to enjoy.

TED relies on volunteer translators who must be fluent in both languages and knowledgeable in best practices.

The video site Viki also made its reputation on great subtitles. Fan translations of videos from around the world, including cult-favorite Korean dramas, are accessible in over 160 languages.

The care and attention paid by these superfans make for exceptional translations that stay true to the original intent of the material. The result is over 22 million unique visitors a month, and increased engagement and investment on the part of the community.

Savvy users of the globalized internet see subtitle translation as an extension of the sharing they’re already doing on social networks, and that’s unlikely to change. But you can’t rely on volunteers and fans to do the work, especially if your company’s revenue growth is on the line.

Why You Need to Invest in Subtitle Translation

When creating and sharing marketing video content, subtitling is a vital part of your business plan.

You require subtitles that stay true to the source material but are still localized properly for the target audience. That makes for a great viewer experience, which should always be the primary goal.

Here are a few additional reasons to invest in this service.

1. To increase market share

If you’ve spotted a gap in a foreign market and are just itching to fill it, a good subtitling strategy is the way to go to reach those potential new customers.

Even locally, you’d probably be surprised by how many people are living the bulk of their daily lives in a language other than your own. Your outreach can really be improved by having the right subtitling strategy in place.

Using subtitles that are tailored towards a specific target audience will help you to bring your message about your product and business to potential customers.

Since you already know that video is an incredibly effective communication tool, increasing your market share may be a strong reason to consider a subtitling strategy.

2. To get more out of your marketing budget

Producing videos can be expensive. You might have to hire a whole crew, rent equipment, and pay for post-production, just to get something presentable.

It’s possible that after all that, you won’t have money left over to start again from scratch in a second or third language.

This video asset, an investment by your company, should be put to maximum use.

The right subtitling strategy can help you with that. Subtitles are a cost-effective add-on that gives your video a much wider possible audience.

3. To build credibility as a global company

You might see this as a bit of positive PR for your company.

Providing localized versions of your videos shows that your company has international presence, and that you value customers in other countries and regions.

4. To protect your international brand

If you’re operating in a foreign market, not communicating in the local language has a couple of drawbacks.

We already mentioned you’d be cutting off potential revenue streams. Additionally, if you’re not the one doing the talking, someone else might be doing it for you.

Having a subtitling strategy in place to deliver a message in another language can help you ensure that you’re participating in the conversation.

5. To increase visibility online

Most people search the Internet in their native language – it’s just more comfortable and natural.

Search engines are also getting smarter at understanding the way people want to consume information. The only way to reliably rank on Google is to offer high-quality content that’s meaningful to your target audience.

Having a subtitling strategy can go a long way toward achieving that goal if you’re trying to rank in a foreign language.

Once you’ve identified your main goals, you can hopefully get a clearer picture of what languages should be a priority for your project, and how your video should be used and shared.

6. To increase engagement

According to Facebook, adding captions to your video can boost view time by 12 percent.

Why are subtitles so valuable on that platform? On Facebook, 85 percent of videos are watched on mute.

“Sound is still an option [on Facebook], but it’s not required,” said Rye Clifton, director of experience at GSD&M, an ad agency based in Texas. “If you can make something compelling without needing people to turn the audio on, you’re ahead of people who are not thinking that way.”

Subtitles therefore make it easy for people to consume the information presented in the videos without needing to turn the sound on.

Not only are you making your videos more accessible, but you’re also making it easier for everyone to engage with your content, products and services.

The Subtitle Translation Process

The viewer experience is the number one priority when adding subtitles to videos.

At its best, video content is supposed to be engaging. Carrying that experience to other languages via subtitles requires a balance of linguistic and technical know-how.

Retaining the meaning of the text within the foreign subtitles can be a tricky process.

Like TED or Viki, you could take or you might lean towards a team of professional translators working on your project. Here’s how a team should work together to create engaging subtitles that properly communicates your intended message.

1. Requirements gathering

This is where you define the scope and nature of the project, figure out the languages you need, and how the subtitles should be presented.

The project manager will also select the right team, ideally fluent in both the original and target languages.

2. Transcription of the original video

Before you can add the translated subtitles, you must transcribe and translate the original source video transcription.

3. Subtitle translation

Subtitles are generally typed up and saved as a SubRip (.srt) file. These files are used by massive video sharing platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

When subtitles are added to a video, you type them up using a relatively simple code in Notepad or WordPad. To translate those subtitles, you replace with original text in a copied version of the .srt plain text file.

The code breaks down into four sections:

  1. Section number: This indicates the sequence of a subtitle (in ascending order from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on).
  2. Start and end times: This must be written as hour:minute:second,millisecond and indicates the time when a subtitle should appear in the video.
  3. Subtitles to appear on screen: This is the part that you need to edit and replace with the translation.
  4. Blank space: This open line divides each section.

In practice, it would look like this:

00:01:25,474 -> 00:01:27,878
Hi, how are you?

00:01:25,474 -> 00:01:27,878
Bonjour, comment ca va?

This method can be time consuming, and instead you can make use of online subtitle translation tools that can automate the process for you.

Additionally, some languages take much longer to say things than others. It’s important to give a viewer enough time to read the subtitles, while still honoring the original meaning.

Translation and adjustment at this stage is a balancing act, and real skill is involved in creating the right effect.

4. Quality assurance

Testing is essential.

Native speakers of the target language who are also fluent in the source language should check to make sure the final product is easy to understand, easy to read, and true to the original.

5. Final engineering and embedding

Translated subtitles may be embedded directly in the video (like a DVD or Blu-ray movie) or displayed at run-time (best for online videos).

To do all the above in house requires both linguistic expertise and a great deal of time. In order to get it done currently and efficiently, it’s worth looking at outsourcing this task.

Why turn to a professional service for video subtitle translation?

If you want your video content to have a global reach, it’s clear that subtitle translation is the way to go.

You can’t always change the content of the video itself, so adding multilingual subtitles can quickly and affordably make the video accessible to a wider audience.

However, subtitling in a foreign language isn’t easy. Inaccurate subtitles can give off unintended meanings and result in negative publicity or audience sentiment.

But the opportunity is clear—strong subtitles can immensely enhance your video’s reach.

But remember subtitle translation is a mixed media task that requires expertise in several fields. Each video is a project consisting of several layers of graphics, soundtracks, and text. When ordering video translation, each of the above-mentioned components requires translation and localization.

Therefore, the best subtitling service won’t be limited to only the linguistic aspects.

Not only will a quality vendor add subtitles to video in your target languages, but they will also offer to record professional dubbing and help you choose the right layout for graphics and animations so that a recipient from a different cultural background may find them interesting.

A full video localization process guarantees you a high return on investment on multiple markets at the same time.

Trust Us with Your Multilingual Video Projects

Summa Linguae Technologies specializes in video annotation and localization services.

Our extensive network of resources overseen by efficient project management ensures the complete delivery of all aspects of video production like subtitling.

Our team will ensure your content is localized, linguistically correct, culturally appropriate, and that it fits within the appropriate context.

Contact us today to get started.

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