- Localization can unlock existing content for new audiences and new revenue for content producers but only if done with sensitivity to the language, culture and demographics of each region.
- A guide from automated dubbing system Papercup suggests best practices for developing a strategy to reduce the risk of failure and to save on cost.
- It means careful consideration of which content to localize and rigorous testing and analysis prior to launch.
Localization is a key method for content producers to generate more value from existing content, especially onto mushrooming FAST channels, but betting thousands of dollars on an untested market is incredibly risky.
Establishing a detailed strategy can reduce the risk of failure. Here are some clues, courtesy of automated dubbing system Papercup.
Its guide for best practices for building a localization strategy begins by highlighting when you shouldn’t actually be considering doing so.
“Pushing for international growth can waste resources and limit results but research can save time and money and ensure you target the right markets for the best impact,” it advises.
For example, if the source content is of low quality and performed poorly in the original market then it may not make sense to expend effort monetizing it further.
There should always be solid internal reasoning behind certain content seeing further distribution at home or abroad. It could be high customer engagement metrics, product relevance, or pipeline influence. “Wasting localization resources on content that can’t deliver for business objectives is a no-go.”
For instance, hiring a dubbing studio to localize a 60-minute video would cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000.
Once you’ve identified the content and the region you want to target — don’t just press go. It will pay to run a test pilot to get the best launch results.
“Content localization requires more than just translation. It’s essential you speak to social cues and values while respecting local customs,” says the guide.
As well as increasing engagement, “cultural sanity checks” are needed to avoid offense or alienation. The answer to that is to find a local partner with experience translating or producing content in your target region.
Localizing content for a new market can be more fruitful if you start small and build up to longer pieces. Every market should have a small pilot as part of the research phase to work out any bugs and gauge audience interest.
Another key part of the approach when planning overseas expansions should be to invest in data and analysis tooling to ensure your strategy is as effective as possible.
This should, for instance, analyze the competition to gain insights to inform your localization strategy. On what channels do competitors gain traction? Where does their traffic come from, what types of content succeed, and against what objectives? These answers will help establish if and where gaps exist in the market.
There’s no need for a massive outlay here. According to Papercup, small or individual content providers can be acquired as outposts in new markets, and you use a test period to assess performance against objectives.
“The benefit of a pilot is that very little has been invested in getting these results, whether good or bad. This allows you to go back to the drawing board and tweak your variables until you find the right pathway to go all-in on localization.”
Give your pilot the best chance of success by picking content your target audience will likely find resonant. Sounds like common sense but there are hazards in not doing so. Select content based on target market desk research, is the advice. Learn what your target audience likes to consume and consider where there are gaps in the market.
“If you choose a video your target audience finds irrelevant, you might struggle to distinguish between a lack of appetite for localized content or a lack of interest in the subject matter.”
People often try localizing with subtitles because the barrier to entry is low. You can even automate captioning if you really need to keep costs down. However, you might want to consider dubbing depending on what you see or anticipate in your target market. In many countries, dubbing is the norm, and you harm your localization efforts by avoiding it.
Hiring a recording studio and voice actors for a small localization pilot might be overkill, but you could use an automated dubbing solution for a low cost and fast turnaround.
In an article for Broadcast, Papercup co-founder and CEO Jesse Shemen quotes Bloomberg media chief executive M. Scott Havens as saying on the Press Gazette’s “Future of Media Explained” podcast, “if you don’t put out published products that are in native language, you just by definition are going to miss out on a lot of the engagement and credibility.”
Bloomberg recently partnered with Papercup to localize hundreds of hours of news content over the next year, expanding the reach of some of its most popular online video series, like Quicktake.
Technology, and AI specifically, Havens said, represented an “opportunity over the next couple of years for [Bloomberg] to expand our footprint, and do so in an authentic and native way to some of these countries so that it doesn’t feel like an imperialist United States entrance and we assume they speak English.”
Big content spends, tapping emerging markets, and automated versioning: these are just a few of the strategies OTT companies are turning to in the fight for dominance in the global marketplace. Stay on top of the business trends and learn about the challenges streamers face with these hand-curated articles from the NAB Amplify archives:
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- Think Globally: SVOD Success Means More Content, Foreign Content and Automated Versioning