There have been critical changes in the way customers consume multimedia content in the past few years. To start, users are clamoring for a larger variety of multimedia content types, delivered more quickly and on the various devices they use.
Video, for example, is quickly becoming the way people prefer to consume information online. By 2019, online video will be responsible for 80% of global internet traffic.
That means your company should start investing more heavily into multimedia if you haven’t done so already. But there are things you need to know and ways to be smart about it.
Don’t worry; we’ll break it down for you. Here are the trends we’re seeing in multimedia localization and how you need to respond to them.
Global consumers want it instantly
Once content is online, it’s available immediately, globally. To stay competitive and capture the market, businesses need to release localized content at or near the same time as they release their home-market content. (Remember that people are three times more likely to buy a product when they’re addressed in their own language.)
Hyper-fast localized content is achieved primarily in two ways: automations and new resource models.
- You can automate work that is repetitive and simple, such as changing fonts required for certain markets. Also, you can automate language-related tasks with machine translation (MT), text-to-speech (TTS) applications and speech-to-text (STT). Automations will be capable of handling more and more complex tasks, so make sure you have a technologist who can help you keep raising the bar.
- You can investigate harnessing resources that are always on and large in number: the crowd. Amara, for example, focuses on crowdsourced translation of video subtitles. A caveat is that it’s sometimes hard to control quality when you work with a general untrained crowd. That said…
It doesn’t need to be perfect
In this high-velocity online world, people value speed over quality. They just want content in their own language and are willing to put up with errors in order for that content to exist in the first place. And besides, it’s hard to keep up quality when you increase speed. You may simply get lower quality from the methods you employ and/or have to reduce the time you’d need to accommodate QA processes.
A few examples: speech-to-text applications can get things terribly wrong. Machine translation can sometimes produce content that isn’t very fluent. And a non-professional crowd can definitely miss some of the finer details. But the good news is that your audience may very well tolerate it.
To combat this, if you have time, build in a quick human QA step—they can review part of the content and if there are problems, review the rest. Then, look into QA automations (grammar and terminology checkers for subtitles, for example).
But to make sure quality doesn’t go sideways on you, educate your stakeholders, formally define quality and rethink your process and resources for multimedia content.
What about adjustments for the global disabled user?
Businesses must decide whether to accommodate disabled customers. Doing it is likely good for your brand and many civic-minded businesses will see it as the right thing to do.
Text-to-speech (TTS) is already widely accepted for making content accessible to blind or sight-impaired persons. TTS has been used widely in accessibility services for almost 10 years—it was one of the fields in which TTS was first adopted—and disabled users are familiar with the voices and their peculiarities.
But it adds expense and time. So how do you decide on this one? First, you need to understand your customer base—how many disabled customers or prospects do you have? Furthermore, how are they disabled (hard of hearing, blind, etc.)? Examples of ways you can accommodate them include using hard-of-hearing subtitles (also known as closed captions) or using descriptive terms in audio so a customer can understand the context (laughter, siren, crying, music, etc.).
All marketers are concerned with providing content that generates tangible value: are people watching the videos? Are support calls decreasing? Marketers have to know how their content has moved the needle.
And the old KPIs won’t do anymore: clicks, traffic, and other ‘vanity metrics’. Bring a measurement expert to the table who can help you decide what KPIs really matter, and help you understand where to get and how to analyze the data.
For a deeper discussion of this, take a look at our ebook Why Old-school Loc Metrics Do You No Favors.
Rise of emerging markets
We are seeing increased demand for multimedia in emerging markets such as Brazil and China, and in multiple markets in both India and Africa. Their growth is astounding. But when it comes to multimedia, there are some factors that complicate both satisfying your market and localizing your content.
For example, there’s the reality of illiteracy in emerging markets. This influences how you’ll build multimedia—text-based content (subtitles) will not work.
Also, the huge number of languages across these markets makes localization expensive—you have to carefully choose which languages to do based on many factors. Conduct research: how do your users consume information? What devices do they use? What are their language preferences and which emerging markets show the most potential for growth and ROI?
Gaming elements include scorekeeping, rewards, risk, narrative and characters. In 2017, we saw the first big wave of the translation of gamified e-learning materials. But not without an investment of time and money: it’s more expensive, the process is challenging, new workflows are required and establishing realistic timeframes is tricky.
You need to find out what your users are demanding and understand the effectiveness of different types of learning formats (usually games increase learning retention and certainly, interest among younger users). From there, you can decide if you want to step up your own budget and commit the time to developing and localizing this type of multimedia content.
There’s no doubt that we’ll continue slipping away from flat, text-based formats and that we’ll see the bar raised ever higher for interesting, engaging, dynamic content. Customers and end-users will demand it. Even though the rise of multimedia content is a big challenge for localizers, the rewards will be worth it when your users connect with your content and when customer loyalty—and sales—increase worldwide.
Radek Buchlovsky is the Director of our Publishing and Media department.