There are a lot of reasons to add captions and/or subtitles to your videos; these 5 are our favorite.
#1 – Accessibility and inclusion
This is our number one top reason!
In order to watch, understand, and/or learn from video content, viewers who are Deaf or hard of hearing rely on captions. And this group of people is not some minuscule minority: Disabling hearing loss affects over five percent of the world population, which is more than 400 million people and growing (World Health Organization). While that number of people is incomprehensibly large, the solution is clear: caption videos by default.
Beyond the statistics and numbers, it is a problem when one single individual is unable to access content, which might otherwise be beneficial or life changing.
@deafgirllifts why cc are so important #cc #closedcaptions #deaf #accessibility ♬ original sound – katie | ktnlifts | deaf / hoh
As they say, one 15 second video is worth about 450 pictures, so the one above is equivalent to approximately 450,000 words.
Furthermore, access and inclusion doesn’t just stop with disabilities and captions. Translating video, with subtitles, enables content to cross language barriers. We have written a lot about translation (and our newest initiative, Amplifying Voices, is working to address this challenge), so we’ll move on to our next point.
#2 – Maximizing audience comprehension and engagement
In addition to accessibility for people with hearing loss, captions and subtitles have been proven to help viewers remain focused. In multiple academic studies, there is evidence that learners with and without learning disabilities show noteworthy improvements to comprehension (Kirkland, et al; Scoresby, et al; Linder). In other words, captions are a powerful tool for helping viewers engage with and retain the information that you are sharing.
We do hope you will use this research and information responsibly and always aim to create video content that is maximally engaging, moving, and/or educational for the betterment of the viewer ❤️.
#3 – Ranking higher in search results
You may have heard that YouTube is the second (or third) most popular search engine in the world. Either way, it’s a good place to pick up new viewers and captions can help! While the obvious answer might be keywords and search terms being surfaced by captions (which doesn’t hurt), the biggest boost seems to be due to how people interact with captioned videos. Viewers have been found to watch captioned videos by up to 40% longer (PLYmedia). This may be a mix of people who need captions for accessibility, individuals watching a video on mute (see below), and/or ESL learners seeking captioned videos (Ketabi, et al; Jahanyfard).
The reason this matters is because YouTube uses average view percentage as a key component of its recommendation and ranking algorithm:
So if you’re hoping to land higher up in YouTube search results and recommendations, captions and subtitles can help you get there!
#4 – “Unmuting” your videos
A Verizon report found that 69% of viewers report watching videos without sound when in public (Forbes). The same study found that 80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available. With captions, you provide your audience the flexibility to comfortably watch without sound; otherwise, you risk them skipping your videos in favor of content that is captioned.
#5 – Captioning makes subtitling / translation easier
Our fifth and final reason for captioning and subtitling may seem kind of circular, but when you have captions it is much easier and faster to subtitle and translate. This is because the captions provide both a written reference, as well as timecodes, which makes translating and synching subtitles much faster than creating translated subtitles “by ear” (i.e. without reference captions). So if you are planning to make translated subtitles for a video, create captions first (which also gets you all of the benefits above) and save yourself time on the subtitles.
Convinced? Begin captioning and subtitling today!
Since this article has, no doubt, ignited a passion to ensure that all of your YouTube videos are accurately captioned and subtitled, we’ll leave you with a few ways to do that:
Ways to caption or subtitle video
- Do It Yourself – For DIY’ers Amara has a free subtitle editor, compatible with public YouTube videos. If your videos are private, be sure to check out the paid options.
- Professional – If you prefer to hire someone to make captions or subtitles, the Amara On Demand service offers excellent quality output at affordable prices.
Happy captioning and subtitling, and if you would like to chat with us on any of the topics above, please get in touch.