How to Get Started with

Video Localization

April 19, 2023In VideoBy Stef Prein16 Minutes

Video has been on the rise of some years now. Most people are familiar with the benefits, like how it engages more than text, or how much more information is remembered after watching a video vs reading a text. The list of benefits is endless. But what if you are looking to use that video content to expand your business offering into new markets? Video localization is the answer!

If you’re looking to expand your reach into new markets, video localization may be the answer. By adapting your existing, or future videos for different languages and cultures, you can open up new audiences around the world. But it’s not as simple as translating your videos word-for-word. So, lets look into how to get started with video localization and take your business global.


What is (video) localization and why do it

In short there are three ways to adapt content for different languages and markets: translation, localization and transcreation. But what do these three words actually mean?

Translation is the simplest form of adaptation, simply translating the text from one language to another. Localization goes beyond translation, adapting the content to reflect the culture and values of the target market. Transcreation is the most complex form of adaptation, reworking the content to be culturally relevant and appeal to the target audience on an emotional level.

Video localization is generally used as the overall term to cover translation, localization and transcreation. The aim is the same: adopting your video content for new markets in different parts of the world. This can involve everything from simply adding subtitles in the target market’s language, translating the dialog to changing the setting or cast new talent to better reflect the target audience. Important is to first figure out what the best approach would be for your specific need.

Benefits of video localization

There are many benefits to localized videos, including increased engagement, higher conversion rates, and improved SEO. Localized videos help you to connect with your audience on a deeper level, and to connect your audience with your message. It also helps your audience find your video content online, using video SEO.

But first and foremost, it makes your new potential customers understand you and what you try to tell and sell them. There are so many different languages spoken around the world and op top of that there are some many local nuances…

For American businesses usually the first step on the path to world domination is conquering the UK market. It’s easy, because all marketing material and content is created in English and can just be reused, right?

Well, it’s not that simple. People in the UK speak a (very) different version of English. For example, what Americans call “apartment” is called a “flat” in the UK.And although the UK left the EU, the Brits still use European names for vegetable like courgette, or aubergine. And then there are a lot of local differences, as well… So, even in this example, taking localization into account is really important.


How to get started with video localization

There is a lot to consider when localizing (video) content for different markets. Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Start by identifying the key markets you want to target. This will help you determine which languages need to be supported. Really take time for this step, so you don’t end up adding languages later in the process. That almost always leads to higher costs.


  1. Take a close look at your video content and identify any text or audio that will need to be localized. Don’t’ forget to look at the visual information! Make sure to include all visual information like titles, any on-screen text, product packaging and branding, and subtitles/captions. Pro tip: use a (content) management system to keep track of all elements that need to be changed.


  1. Preferably this would have been step 1, but you can’t predict the future and expansion may not have been on the calendar when the video content was created. Identify how much room there is for expansion of on-screen text and voice-over. Different languages have different lengths and that could be an issue. For example, Spanish needs about 30% more screen space and length for audio. So ideally, plan your content production with future localization in mind.


  1. Work with a professional localization company to create high-quality translated versions of your video content. This could be one and the same company, or two separate companies: one that handles the translation and localization, and one that takes care of the video production part. Always be sure to review the translations carefully to ensure accuracy.


By following these steps, you can ensure that your video localization project is successful and that your videos reach the widest possible audience!


Common mistakes made during the localization process

Localization is not always easy, and there are a number of common mistakes that companies make during the process. One mistake is failing to properly research the target market. It is essential to understand the customs, culture, and language of the target market before content can be localized.

Another mistake is failing to consider the needs of all stakeholders. Localization efforts will be unsuccessful if they do not consider the needs of employees, partners, and customers.

Finally, companies sometimes try to cut corners by using automated translation tools instead of working with human translators. While automation can be helpful, it is no substitute for the skills and expertise of a well-trained translator.

By avoiding these common mistakes, companies can improve their chances of success with localization.


The ROI of video localization

Now that we know what localization is, how we can start, and what mistakes we should avoid, how can we measure the return on investment (ROI) of video localization?

There are a number of ways to approach this. One approach is to look at the cost of localization relative to the potential revenue from new markets. For example, if it costs $5,000 to localize a video for the French market and you believe there is a potential for $10,000 in additional revenue from that market, then the ROI is 50%. This is obviously a simplified example because in the real world you would take margin, marketing budget, etc. into account.

Another common approach is to measure the impact of localization on key metrics such as brand awareness, web traffic, or conversion rates. For instance, if brand awareness increases by 10% in markets where you’ve localized your videos, that’s a strong indication that localization is having a positive impact. This approach requires a much more detailed approach and is similar to measuring the ROI of video. (good topic: How to measure the ROI of video)

Ultimately, there is no real one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to measuring the ROI of video localization. The approach that makes the most sense will depend on your individual business objectives. However, by considering factors as cost, revenue potential, and key metrics, you can develop a clear picture of whether or not localization is delivering a positive return on investment.


The future of video localization

With the advent of streaming services, the popularity of foreign films and TV shows has grown exponentially in recent years. Which has a positive impact on the video localization business. While some argue that video localization is simply a matter of translating the dialogue, it is actually much more complex. In order to effectively reach a foreign audience, it is often necessary to make changes to the script, cast local actors, and adjust the visuals and audio to suit the target market. This has been the practice in the US film and TV industry for years.


Deepfake and AI

Deepfakes are known for their evil qualities, like media manipulation where a public figure says something in a video, that wasn’t actually said by them. Or someone is being interviewed over video conferencing, who is not the person they claim to be (although they look like that person on screen).

The good news is that deepfakes aren’t all evil. They can for example be used to create very funny and entertaining content, like the TikTok account DeepTomCruise does, where a deepfake version of Tom Cruise does weird and funny things that could be done Tom Cruise, but not really. Like wrestling an alligator…


Time to tame the ?!

♬ Cool for the Summer – Sped Up (Nightcore) – Demi Lovato & Speed Radio

For localization deepfake and other AI technology could open up a world of possibilities. It has already sped up the translation processes tremendously. With the release of GPT-3 natural language processing has become much more accurate. And GPT-4 came out last month!

Deepfake technology heavily relies on AI and ML (Machine Learning) and can benefit from the use of GPT-3. The combined use of these technologies could speed up the localization process of video and especially audio a lot. Imagine how much time could be saved if changes in translations could easily be added to a recording, without having to record the new script changes. Or if the mouth of the person on screen could be manipulated to match the script changes, without the need for a re-shoot.


Video localization case study: Netflix

Sometimes localization leads to an entirely different approach to how content is created. This happened to Netflix, the well-known global streaming service that offers TV shows, movies, and documentaries in over 190 countries. In order to reach such a large audience, they have had to invest heavily in video localization. One of their most successful shows, Narcos, was originally produced in English for the US market. However, it was quickly translated into Spanish and dubbed for audiences in Latin America. The show was so successful in this market that Netflix decided to produce a second season entirely in Spanish. This required not only translating the scripts but also casting local actors and filming on location in Colombia. As a result of their investment in video localization, Narcos has been a huge hit with audiences around the world and has helped to grow Netflix’s subscriber base. Check the trailer here and make sure you don’t get hooked…

Localization gone wrong

At the dawn of this new millennium, Swedish appliances maker Electrolux thought it was a great idea to enter the American market with this slogan: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”. The company didn’t take any cultural differences or audience into account when coming up with their advertising campaign. They obviously meant to say: Nothing vacuums like an Electrolux.

This line was not well-received by many Americans. Though Electrolux was promoting vacuum cleaners, consumers questioned why the Swedish company was so proud that nothing sucked more than their product…

After only 4 years on the US market Electrolux left, as consumers opted for other brands that, well… sucked less. But hopefully vacuumed equally as good.



Localization is a complex process that can be difficult to get right. By avoiding the common mistakes we’ve mentioned, businesses can improve their chances of success with localization. Additionally, it’s important to remember that video localization is an ever-evolving field. And if you have a hard time convincing your boss of the importance of localization, know that there are ways to measure the ROI.

As streaming services become more popular and new technologies emerge, the need for qualified professionals will only continue to grow. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in video localization, there are plenty of opportunities available to you. With the right skills and knowledge, you can achieve great things in this growing industry.