Globalizing Videos to Enrich Digital Experiences

Jun 17, 2016

Article ImageSome people argue a video speaks louder and longer than text. While this might not always be true, videos fit nicely in top-notch digital experiences as dynamic and engaging components. Video creators know well they have to tap into several types of expertise to glue multiple layers of content together and define the winning combination of text, visuals, and sound. That challenge is actually replicated as many times as the number of international markets and audiences you want to target. Diversity plays out in such content which is no exception to globalization best practices.

Like for any other type of global content initial efforts must be dedicated to designing and developing videos in a sensible fashion. Once again the scope of global consistency and coherence must be determined and balanced with local sensitivity and relevance. In other words, global readiness has to be considered from the outset. As video building blocks are made of various elements each one must be ready and flexible enough for adaptation in general and localization in particular. Let's review some major check points that are also milestones in the global content value chain videos contribute to.

Check the level of localization readiness of each video component including:

  • Text that must be linguistically meaningful and fluid for target audiences whether it is displayed or spoken. This means clarity for viewers who may not be native speakers, yet consume videos in the market they are in. This also urges writers to make their text as ready for localization as possible by avoiding geo-centric references or jargon. Obviously some specific wording or terminology may be necessary for accuracy or memorability purposes but it should be kept to a minimum and identified for localization experts. Text has also to be concise enough to allow for room for localization which may take more space and time than in English or other source languages.
  • Visuals that must be culturally appropriate and actionable for target audiences. This means using imagery, colors, and any type of visual eye-catcher with international viewers in mind. It is likely to be an area where creativity may be unleashed at the expense of global effectiveness if it is not taken into account from day one. So rules and guidelines should be established to help creators get the balance right between their creative mission and the vital return on their efforts internationally. For example, the image of a movie celebrity may be borderless and closely tied to the conveyed message whereas the picture of an animal may be valueless and even offending in some countries.
  • Sound that must be in line with the overall content and container requirements. Music and a broad range of sounds complement visual teasers and are therefore subject to the same global readiness imperatives. While some music is definitely usable as such across a number of markets some sounds are linked to local habits or environments. Like for visuals sound may be quite specific and yet add value globally, e.g. when it is associated with luxury or high-tech products.

Check the level of flexibility in the use of video components: Because text, visuals and sound have to be adapted to local markets and audiences to some extent, video designers, developers and owners should anticipate the need to replace, remove or add components to keep it relevant internationally. Not being able to do so and remaining stuck with content that does not matter or sell to viewers would be a worst case scenario. Here again guidelines should help make the creative process agile enough and allow for localized substitutes or adds generating more compelling experiences. For example creating and leveraging repositories of locally engaging pictures, backgrounds or icons turns original creativity into global power

Check the flexibility of the video storyboard(s): It may be fairly natural to incorporate all messages in one single video. However, a couple of lessons from global writing should be learned and applied to global video creation. First, some topics or parts of the video may be not relevant in all markets. It may be easy to "cut" portions of a video but these portions may contain themselves smaller portions that should be kept and localized. Second, this should foster topic-based video creation. It is more time and cost effective to cluster and localize modules for local audiences and enable video creators to be proactive rather than reactive--not to mention the ease of reusability and maintenance. Third, this degree of scalability helps avoid the video duration pitfall globally. Long videos may not be seen as usual or nice by some local audiences. So they appreciate viewing at the pace and in the format they are used to.

In addition to these global readiness considerations video owners should bear a few localization points in mind.

  • Use subtitling or dubbing: One of the immediate localization questions relates to the value of subtitles versus native voices. Global guidance and local standards help answer it by putting effectiveness criteria forward. Using only subtitles makes digital experience in some markets while only dubbed voice-over content breaks it in other markets. If both options are acceptable for local viewers more criteria come to play like the maintenance and update of videos over time, or the actual goal underlying the creation of videos. Ad hoc decisions are based on time and cost management, communication, and engagement objectives.
  • Use language and video experts: Both should team up to cover all facets of global video effectiveness. Localizing videos is different and challenging. It requires skills and experience in very collaborative framework so that viewer centricity remains at the core of the process. Major language services providers and many global agencies have adopted this holistic approach and have the needed resources in store or can put them in place.
  • Use testing and certification: Delivering digital experiences does not tolerate leaps in the dark. Ensuring localized videos fit nicely in local channels and ecosystems is key. As local audiences tend to move across channels these videos must be certified from design, linguistic, and functional perspectives in light of where they will be used. Ideally local viewer groups should be consulted during design and development stages to foresee and meet local requirements. Otherwise local viewer groups should be involved in testing and certifying localized videos before they go-live. Although it may appear to be complex at first sight it proves to be a simplicity driver and a time saver eventually.

Globalizing videos in a must do when crafting local experiences. There is no room for doing it with favor or fear.

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)