To win with video, add text!


Video content is on the rise

If content is king, video content is emperor. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, video will represent 82% of all internet traffic by 2022, thanks to faster broadband, greater connectivity, and increasingly digitally native youth. Especially in mobile social media, users strongly prefer video content. In 2016, research on video performance on Facebook and Instagram in the UAE and UK markets found that users viewed video five times longer than static images or text. 

Alongside this trend is the transformation of how we consume video content. Increasingly, viewers are choosing to “listen” to video with sound off. According to popular media site Digiday, social media and news platforms like Facebook, PopSugar, and Mic are reporting that 50 to 85% of users view video without sound


Subtitles improve comprehension 

The rise in subtitling has made this possible. Whether intralingual (captioning; spoken and written in the same language) or interlingual (translated from one spoken language into a target foreign language), subtitles have become ubiquitous to how viewers understand visual media.  

In the past, captions were designed to aid d/Deaf* and hearing-impaired persons, making broadcast television and distributed visual media accessible to people with hearing disabilities. Today, they provide useful assistance for hearing viewers as well. Even foreign language speakers and language learners have found that subtitles help them better understand content produced for other markets.  

And that’s not all: Subtitles also significantly increase user engagement with video content. A Facebook product marketing executive told AdAge, “What we’ve seen in some of our internal tests is adding captions actually increased view time by an average of 12%.” A similar test of captions for YouTube by 3PlayMedia found a near 14% increase over uncaptioned videos


A wealth of standards 

The proliferation of national and international standards on audiovisual content means that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when drawing up the guidelines for your own brand.  

The European Union, for example, recently updated its former directive on television broadcasting with the Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMSD). Revised in 2018, the AVMSD has among its main objectives to clarify “consumer rules such as obligations for media service providers to improve access for people with visual or hearing impairments.” Each EU member state is charged to adapt and regulate the rules with media service providers for accessibility goals in their own jurisdictions. 

In the US, the nonprofit Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) has been sharing standards since the 1950s and continues to update its guidelines, called the Captioning Key, to meet the speed of change in audiovisual technologies, engagement, and consumer expectations. 

Moreover, all the major social media platforms offer their own guidelines for captioning videos. Many platforms, including YouTube, have gone so far as to make auto caption a default, although, as an article in The Atlantic noted, d/Deaf users report low satisfaction with the often garbled results of auto captions


Global reach at a fraction of the cost 

The clear benefits of video and subtitles suggest that both should be a staple in your toolbox, whether for marketing, product support, online courses, or other applications. However, your decision to subtitle your videos may entail a lot of unknowns. When should captions appear in the video? What is the optimal speed for captions? What font size or font type is best? Do captions affect search engine optimization (SEO) results? How can the video experience be improved for d/Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing users alike? 

Many of the challenges you’re likely to face when you decide to subtitle your videos can be quickly overcome with the help of language and translation professionals. By partnering with Lexsys, you’ll benefit from our knowledge of diverse cultural standards, our expertise in subtitle translation, and a wealth of experience in working with corporate clients, like openSAP and Deutsche Bahn. For online training platforms especially, working with a provider of subtitle translation services delivers significant cost savings – subtitle translation is an easier and more cost-effective alternative to writing scripts and finding voiceover artists in multiple language markets. 

Are you currently considering adding subtitles to your videos? To find out how Lexsys can help you master your subtitling challenges, get in touch with us

Note: d/Deaf includes those for whom sign language is a first language and a part of cultural identity as well as those for whom residual hearing means an oral first language and sign language as a second language.

About the Author

Carl Isaac

Unit Director Technical Documentation

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Verlene Amaral

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Hello administrator, Keep it up!

Tayla Toscano

Hi webmaster, Thanks for the well-researched post!

Deangelo Lyall

Hello webmaster, Thanks for the informative post!


Great article. All absolutely true. Text and subs make a huge difference to our video engagement.👍

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