Video Localization: The What, Why and How

Offering your video content in new languages means a wider audience to capture and engage.


Remember in the opening of Coming to America, when Eddie Murphy tries to pass as a common Queens man, when in reality he is really a wealthy African prince? (I may be dating myself here…)

My point is, there are many cultural subtleties that inform our understanding of messages and intentions.

These can be as subtle as common phrases or references to pop culture that can leave the recipient confused or, in extreme cases, frustrated. And the messages you aim to convey may fall flat.

If you have a video you’re looking to share with a new audience, you want to make sure it doesn’t include any confusing language, sayings/phrases, references, etc.

Taking into consideration a culture’s norms, beliefs, and values is crucial to making a good impression.

Meet Users Where They Are With Video Localization

Video trends are staggering- there is no denying the fact. 90% of consumers think that product videos are helpful in the decision-making process. And by 2022, 82% of all content will be in video format. That’s massive!

And what falls under the umbrella of video? We’re talking…

  • Tutorials
  • Vlogs
  • Interviews
  • Product reviews and demos
  • Live streams
  • Event recaps and presentation videos
  • Video advertisements
  • Testimonials
  • Webinars
  • Product Presentations

And of course, when you’re investing in all things video, you need to see ROI on these (sometimes) pricey ventures. This is a great case for localizing video content!

Leverage Your Existing Video Efforts With Localization

Considering only 20% of the world's population speaks English there is a good chance that a majority of markets where you are expanding to won’t be able to understand your video content at all!

Even worse, trying to reshoot videos for each new language you are expanding your content to is cost prohibitive.

But fear not, here are some easy ways to localize your existing video efforts efficiently:

  1. Subtitles are best for brands and companies on a tight budget. Audiences will visually see people speaking in the language of origin, but the text on the bottom of the screen will be translated and combed for cultural references.

  2. Dubbing, a.k.a. overlaying original voices with the language your target demographic is comfortable with, is an age-old process. It’s typically more expensive than subtitling but easier for the viewer to take in without too much confusion or distraction.

  3. Voiceovers are best for videos that do not focus on talking heads, or people speaking to one another. If you are a travel company and much of your video content is comprised of rolling hills and country sides, this may be a smart option for you.

It’s very easy to choose the simple and cheap route but end up with laughable localized video content.

While each method of video translation has its pros and cons, a decision must be carefully made by incorporating all considerations: budget, quality, speed, digestibility, time to market, and more.

Ensure Your Content is Found by Localizing Video Metadata

Metadata is the information that search engines, like Google, use to discover and determine exactly what a piece of content is all about. Based on how your content is classified and defined, it will appear for different search results.

This exists for video content, as well. In fact, video metadata is an important aspect in getting your content discovered not only on Google, but on YouTube and other platforms, as well.

Thankfully, YouTube makes it easy for owners to add localized metadata to their videos, including translated titles and even subtitles. According to YouTube, localizing metadata makes it possible for your fans to find your videos by searching in their own language.

YouTube can then display all video info like the title, and even subtitles if provided, in that user’s language.

Localize With The Right Resources

Simply put: offering your video content in new languages means a wider audience to capture and engage.

Whether that involves dubbing, subtitling, or recording a whole new voiceover for the content will come down to the exact needs of your specific business.

But Smartling is always here to help. If you would like more information on what services Smartling offers, reach out! We would love to take you through the options we believe would help you secure quality video localization and translation -- including subtitling -- that serves your bottom line.

About Laura

Laura Wyant is a freelance digital strategist and writer/editor. She is currently working with start-ups, tech companies, and health and healing spaces. Laura has been contributing to the Smartling blog on topics around cloud translation, digital strategy, and overall creative translation process. When she isn’t working in media, she is working to educate herself on matters such as intersectional women’s health and advancements in technology.