How marketing dollars moving online is affecting video translation

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Marketing is moving online, and this has affected video translation significantly. How prevalent is video content online? Per Insivia, an online marketing consultancy, in 2016 more online video content was uploaded in 30 days than was produced for CBS, NBC and ABC – combined – in 30 years. This has led to a rise in video voice-over requests for the web, as well as in transcreation, a staple of marketing video localization.

This post will look at the three major ways that marketing moving online has affected video translation.

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The age of social media and online pre-roll

Insivia isn’t the only business consultancy tracking the rise of marketing video online. According to Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) , digital advertising revenues in Q3 of 2016 were $17.6 billion. That’s a 20% increase over the same period in 2015, the largest Q3 recorded for digital marketing (though understandably, the records don’t go that far back). The IAB also reported that video had the strongest growth of any kind of media online – 178% on smartphones and tablets, and 51% overall. Finally, the IAB also noted the incredible growth of social media as a marketing platform – with a $7 billion in revenues in the first half of 2016 alone, and a compound annual growth rate of 54% from 2012 to 2016.

Moreover, TV and movie viewing is shifting online. According to the latest Digital democracy survey by Deloitte, 46% of US consumers subscribe to a streaming video service. Moreover, the survey found that users 14-32 watched more streaming content on average than live content. Finally, they found that about half of all users watch a streaming show or movie on a monthly basis, and at much higher rates amongst millennials.

This means that online video marketing content – that is to say, spots or marketing videos created for online consumption, whether on YouTube, as online pre-roll, or as part of a social media marketing campaign – can sometimes get more eyeballs, and have more marketing impact, than TV spots created for local, broadcast or even cable television.


Of course, you’re seeing this already. For example, you can’t watch YouTube videos without having online pre-roll play before some of them. Same with TV shows on Hulu or other streaming apps for channels like FX – they now play commercials. Finally, you can’t scroll through your Facebook feed without running into a paid post – usually featuring a marketing video. If you’re a cord-cutter – which is to say, if you don’t watch any live television – then you’re taking in all video advertising online.

What it means for video localization

Naturally, this has seriously impacted video translation – most dramatically in the following ways.

1. More (and different) video content to translate.

The flexibility of online platforms lends itself to localization. Users on YouTube and Facebook can change their language settings from a drop-down menu – and Facebook even auto-translates post content not in the selected user language. This encourages the localization of marketing content – after all, if Facebook supports Korean-speaking users, shouldn’t marketing content, including the voice-over narration, be in Korean as well?

The flexibility of online platforms has also made translating online marketing videos slightly less predictable than it is for broadcast/cable content. Because of broadcast constraints, TV commercials (or spots) are predictable – they are 15-, 30- or 60-seconds long, generally. Content used for online spots (like the ones on Hulu) or for online pre-roll generally hews to these time limitations. However, content promoted via social media won’t – for example, if you’re promoting a video on Facebook, the same exact timing constraints don’t apply. The can be any length deemed necessary by a marketing team, as long as it holds an audience’s attention.

2. Different pricing models.

Pricing for online video content is changing, especially as this content gets more eyeballs than broadcast/cable content. Online video content still commands generally lower pricing than broadcast TV spots – that’s a big reason why marketers like it. However, some online video spots can command pricing similar to broadcast or local content, especially if it’s for a high-profile brand, product or corporation, and being pushed aggressively on multiple platforms. A lot of premium content also requires lip-sync dubbing, which is more labor-intensive. Finally, these online spots are also commanding premium talents – and premium talents have higher rates.

3. Interactive elements that require translation as well.

Online video can be interactive and contain calls-to-action, and this content requires additional on-screen titles localization and graphics work. Likewise, videos stored online have metadata –name, video stats, a summary, company links, and other information that is not part of the video itself – that needs to be translated to create a seamless user experience. It’s important to take this content into account,

Someday, all news, video, movies and TV will be online

And it’s going to happen more quickly than we expect. Online video sites and streaming services are by far the most cost-effective delivery platforms for original content, especially when compared to physical media like DVD’s and Blu-ray’s. The convenience of on-demand viewing, spurred initially by DVR machines – with its counterpart, binge-watching – is not only changing consumer habits, especially amongst millennials, but it’s also becoming an expected feature of watching shows and movies. Finally, consumers will spend more time on social media than on any other platform – so that it becomes the leading distributor of news and short-form content. As content shifts online, so will the attendant marketing banner ads, graphics, and of course, videos.


Download “7 Myths of Audio & Video Translation,” JBI Studios’ indispensable guide to audio translation and dubbing.