Why You Must Insist Your Marketing Team Uses Subtitles for Video Content

Subtitles for your videos

If you were to walk up to your Head of Marketing today and tell them, ‘I know a really easy way we can increase our audience by over 465 million people,’  they’d probably think you were off your rocker, but they’d be wrong.


Better accessibility = bigger audiences

Subtitles have been around since the early 20th Century, and have helped make television, theatre, and even radio accessible to the 5% of the world’s population with hearing impairments.   So, over 100 years later, you’d think subtitles would be in use everywhere, every day. Well, now you’d be wrong.  


In 2018, UK charity Action on Hearing Loss found that, over a four-month period, only 150 out of 4,000 cinema screenings were subtitled, equating to just 3%, many of which were only shown at unsociable hours of the day. 


So, why do cinemas refuse to increase their numbers of subtitled showings when it means they are cutting off access to 465 million extra patrons and up to £6.5 million in ticket sales? The simple but shameful answer is that people with no hearing impairments complain it ‘spoils’ their enjoyment. 


But are we really that selfish?  After all, even those of us who have no trouble with our hearing use subtitles regularly in today’s world.

The Silent Subtitle Reader

Anyone who commutes via public transport these days knows that the only acceptable way to spend your journey is to stare gormlessly at the screen of your smartphone.  But commuters aren’t prepping for that morning’s meeting or checking emails. Oh no! Instead, they are spending their valuable time watching cat videos on YouTube.


Last year, the video streamer was one of the most popular apps for smartphones, being downloaded over 35 million times, but try playing a video out loud on your way to work and you will get immediately shut down by every other commuter on your train.


So, let us welcome in the humble subtitle, because who needs audio when it’s all written there on the screen for you anyway?  Thanks to this revolution in subtitle use, it’s estimated that over 85% of videos on Facebook alone are now watched on mute. Now, regardless of whether you’ve left your headphones at home or they’ve become tangled in an impossible knot you can’t face untying at 7:30 in the morning, you can still watch and understand the video that your entire Twitter feed can’t stop sharing.


How the subtitle became the marketing department’s new best friend

When we think of the subtitle, we think of it as having one job: to translate audio into words for when the audio is inaccessible.  But the 21st Century has proven that there is so much more to this unsung hero of entertainment than we thought, and this time it’s all about marketing.  


The first question for any marketing department is ‘how do we get the customer through the door?’ and in 2019 that equates to ‘how do we get the customer onto our website?’  Seems simple, right? Wrong! Gone are the days when the biggest advert could win you the biggest customer base; these days it’s all about Search Engine Optimisation and being on the first page of Google’s search results.


So, what does this have to do with subtitles?  Well, as I’ve already mentioned, video streaming is now the most popular internet activity by a mile, so, unsurprisingly, video marketing is now the most popular form of internet marketing too.  In fact, companies that utilise it earn almost 50% more in revenue than those who don’t. The trouble is, Google, and other search engines, are not yet able to understand video, and until the day when they can (which will probably be the same day our robot overlords take charge), marketing departments have to find a way to teach search engines what their videos are saying.  


Enter the subtitles.  Not only are they translating audio into text for us human folk, but they’re also doing so for search engines, allowing them to understand what the video is about and therefore categorise it alongside relevant content.  


Suddenly, as if by magic, the subtitle has become a key weapon in increasing your company’s revenue.  Now all you need is someone to transcribe the audio, *hint hint*.


Blog written by Transcriber Lydia

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