WHY CLOSED CAPTIONING BELONGS IN YOUR VIDEO CONTENT

Man watches personalized video with closed captioning.
Len Smofsky Jan 29 ,2020

Closed captioning in videos – to add or not to add? It’s a question that many marketers might not bother asking when creating their video content. It’s strange, considering almost every form of media incorporates closed captioning, especially to ensure compliance with accessibility acts and regulations involving accommodations for the hearing and visually impaired. Everything from traditional DVDs, streaming sites like Netflix, and live sports or video games give audiences closed-captioning options.

Why aren’t marketers including closed captions in their video content at the same frequency? Although we have our guesses, we know for certain that there are several compelling reasons why video content should feature closed captioning.

THE NUMBERS ON CLOSED CAPTIONING

Closed captioning in video content might seem like a nice “add-on.” However, there’s plenty of research to proves that on-screen text is a fundamental video component. Research has revealed that videos with closed captioning  perform better in a number of ways.

INSTAPAGE’S CASE STUDY – SILENT VIDEO TEST

Instapages’ silent video test tracked several Facebook video metrics to determine the performance of videos with and without captions. This included sound-on views vs. sound-off views, view time with captions, view time without captions, and several other KPIs over two months. They collected over two days’ worth of video view time from over 10,000 viewers. Their findings were:

With captions:

  • 5% increase in average total view time on the variation, and a 3% increase in viewership
  • 16% increase in the average reach of the video
  • 17% increase in engagements with the video (likes, shares, pins, etc.)

Without captions:

  • 15% decrease in average shares
  • 4% decrease in average video views and an 18% drop in 10-second video views
  • 26% drop in CTA clicks

Benefits like these aren’t limited to Facebook. YouTuber, Leron Amin, revealed the following insight:

“Adding captions to my YouTube video added an additional 1,046 words and 393 indexable search terms. Best of all, my target keyword density increased by 68 terms, and my keyword diversity increased by 12 terms.”

Closed captioning boosts engagement and even supports bottom-of-the-funnel goals, such as increasing conversions.

BENEFITS OF CLOSED CAPTIONING YOUR VIDEO CONTENT

BETTER SEO INDEXING

Although Google can’t crawl a video, search algorithms can still crawl the text associated with your video. Adding a transcript not only increases accessibility for the visually impaired, but allows search engines to crawl the text. When paired with closed captioning, these accessibility elements increase watch duration, the number of views, and engagement. An increase in these rates will signal to Google that your video is high-quality and relevant to viewers, leading to a naturally higher rank on search engines.

IMPROVED VIDEO PERFORMANCE & ENGAGEMENT

Ultimately, you want your video to hit key objectives and deliver on ROI. Closed captioning, as was revealed by the research above, improves baseline engagement levels. Watch times go up, social shares increase, and conversion rates rise. These gains have a direct effect on sales. Research has shown that closed captioning a video can lead to a 7.32% increase in video traffic, which can generate hundreds or thousands of dollars (or more) depending on the size of your audience.

HELPS ESL LEARNERS

An overlooked benefit of closed captioning in video content is reaching ESL learners. A significant portion of your video audience may not be native English speakers. Just like you may watch your favorite foreign film with subtitles on, viewers of different languages may watch your content with the hope of seeing English subtitles. Therefore, adding captions in your videos will help diminish the language barrier and increase your marketing reach.

IMPROVES VIEWER COMPREHENSION

Although humans process visual information a lot faster than verbal information, text still plays a crucial role in understanding new material. Audio information can easily slip by a viewer, especially if they are distracted by imagery or other cinematic elements. Adding subtitles, especially for videos that relay complex information, can reinforce a video’s message to help your viewers retain more product knowledge.

ACCESSIBLE FOR HEARING IMPAIRED

Closed captioning serves another vital purpose. Many viewers have hearing impairments, meaning that they need the visual input of written text to see what they can’t hear. Subtitles help audiences engage with your message, even with hearing difficulties.

The use of subtitles in this regard is highly beneficial for marketers, especially with the roll out of The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Launched in 2005, the AODA is an Ontario law mandating that organizations comply with standards to be more accessible to persons with disabilities. The act, which the Ontario government aims to have in full swing by 2025, covers a wide range of disabilities, including deafness and hearing disabilities.

From a legal perspective, marketers must comply with AODA standards. Failing to do so can result in fines, not to mention negative press for agencies and brands. More importantly, catering your content to individuals with hearing difficulties prevents you from alienating yourself from valuable members of your audience. Other accessibility Acts that might bear influence on your business include:

  • the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • the Accessible Canada Act (ACA).

Digital non-compliance can result in costly fines, as entities may be fined up to $75,000 for an initial violation and $150,000 for subsequent violations.

ACCESSIBLE IN SILENT ENVIRONMENTS

As many as 85% of Facebook videos are watched on mute. This could be for many reasons, either viewers are in noisy environments (i.e., Starbucks) or in quiet ones (i.e., office space) where loud volumes aren’t appropriate. Regardless of the cause, subtitles accommodate individuals who, by choice, watch videos on mute.

THE QUESTION REMAINS: HOW TO CLOSE CAPTION A VIDEO?

If you’re wondering how to close caption a video we have good news for you! The process is not complicated or expensive at all. Here at BlueRush, our IndiVideo platform allows you to easily insert closed captioning and generate a transcript  to supplement the video script, voice-overs or the dialogue of an on-camera presenter.

CLOSED CAPTIONING OPENS THE DOOR FOR HIGHER ENGAGEMENT

By nature, video content offers higher levels of engagement, but if presented in the wrong context, a great video can still fall flat. In cases where sound can be an issue, closed captioning maintains engagement when the video’s visuals fail to deliver your intended message without audio.

Our IndiVideo self-serve platform, can take any static video and quickly and cost-effectively generate a transcript and closed captions. It’s an easy way to keep your videos compliant with accessibility laws and ensure the broadest audience possible.

This textual element adds another layer of engagement for viewers who have auditory impairments, or whose primary language is not English. By including subtitles in your personalized video content, you can create a deeper connection with your customers and push them further down the funnel.

To learn more, contact BlueRush for a free assessment.

About the author: Len Smofsky

Len Smofsky

Len has over 25 years of experience in visual communications and strategy. Over the last decade his focus has been primarily in the digital area.

Specializing in corporate communications, Len founded one of Canada’s most successful production companies. His company created leading edge video production, TV commercials, digital strategy and media.

In 2006, Len and Larry formed a partnership to create a new BlueRush with the intent of creating personalized customer experiences using a unique blend of digital media and deep technology capabilities. BlueRush works with clients in the financial services, healthcare and packaged goods industries leveraging current digital technologies and services, creating great user experiences at all points in the customer journey.

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