If you’re producing online video content, you should include video captions for maximum impact. Captions can help you get the most from your video and make it more accessible to users.

Many social media platforms, including YouTube, offer automatic video captions and other forms of transcription services. This option can help you get the benefits of video transcription at no cost or extra effort. But is this really the best option for your video caption needs?

Captions can help you get the most from your video and make it more accessible to users.

What is a Video Transcription?

When you produce a video transcription, you are translating the video’s audio track to text. This mainly includes spoken words, but a transcription service also may consist of background noises, music, and pauses.

The video transcription service should create an exact, word-for-word reproduction of the audio. This is different from video captions, which may be abridged for easier reading and to accommodate when they appear on the screen.

How Poor Video Captions Could Damage Your Marketing Strategy

Video captions have many benefits for both the viewer and the producer. Video captions are so important, in fact, that your marketing strategy may be more damaged by poor video captions than if you did not have video captions at all.

Poorly created video captions can:

  • Spoil the user’s experience by creating confusion or irritation
  • Damage the video’s message through inaccuracy
  • Violate FCC rules regarding caption quality and accuracy
  • Damage social-media or website SEO
  • Lower user engagement, which may reduce the video’s ROI

YouTube’s Automatic Captioning vs. Transcription or Video Captions Service

Automatic Captions With YouTube

With at least 72 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute, YouTube has become the king of online video. Since 2005, the video-hosting platform has exploded in popularity and expanded its options to accommodate user needs and viewer trends.

To help video creators make their content more accessible, YouTube introduced an automatic captioning service to create subtitles for videos. YouTube’s software uses speech recognition technology to generate automatic captions with machine learning algorithms.

However, the key takeaway here is “learning.” Automatic speech recognition software has become more sophisticated, but the quality of the video captions can still vary widely.

Automatic speech recognition software has become more sophisticated, but the quality of the video captions can still vary widely.

When you use any automatic video caption software, including YouTube’s, you will have to go through the full video second-by-second to correct any errors. This not only includes the content of the video captions themselves but also where and how long they appear on the screen.

Several factors can make automatic caption software more error-prone, or fail entirely. YouTube’s help section notes that video captions may fail for a variety of reasons:

  • Automatic captions may not support the video’s language
  • The video may be too long for the automatic caption software
  • The video’s audio quality or specific word use may be unrecognized
  • Long periods of silence at the beginning of the video can throw off the software
  • Multiple speakers with overlapping speech may confuse the automatic caption software and create errors

gif of robot rolling face on computer keyboard

Human Transcription and Video Caption Services Are More Accurate

The above issues are less of a problem when you use transcription services provided by real humans. For optimum accuracy and effectiveness, choose a human video caption service. Here are some reasons why humans still beat machines when it comes to captions:

  1. Computers may have problems understanding and transcribing different accents and dialects.
  2. If your video’s audio is less clear, a person is more likely to figure out the words than a computer.
  3. Human transcriptionists can understand and account for speaker errors, such as mispronounced words.
  4. Humans are better at discerning speech from background noise that would otherwise create errors in computers.
  5. People are also better at noting technical glitches, such as excessive feedback or the video freezing, and will know not to include them in the captions.
  6. Uncommon or slang words can confuse computers, but a person can understand them (or look them up) to incorporate them into video captions.
  7. Different speakers can confuse automatic caption software, but humans can tell the difference.
  8. Talking speed is less of a problem for human transcriptionists, who can pause, slow down, or rewind the audio to catch the words correctly.

Benefits of Using Video Captions

1. Increase Engagement

Including subtitles for videos you produce can grow the reach of your content, encouraging engagement with a broader audience. Subtitles for videos can increase view time by more than 12% as people follow video captions as they watch your videos for a longer time.

Using subtitles for videos means that people can consume and share your video content without ever using the audio. Video captions also make it easier to pick out a quote from your content to add to an email or social media post. They can pause the video on the right caption, rather than going back and searching the video, possibly multiple times, to find the right spot. Content with video captions also tends to have more comments, which can attract more viewers.

Video captions and subtitles attract attention. This can help expand your reach if you attract the right viewers, such as a new customer or business partner. Adding video captions is an engaging, thorough, unobtrusive way to draw a viewer’s focus.

2. Improve Accessibility

Video captions help improve a video’s accessibility, making your content available to a broader audience. For the 466 million people around the world who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, this expanded accessibility is a big deal. These individuals need transcriptions or subtitles for videos to be consumed the way you intended.

Because video content can be shared across the globe, not everyone who watches your videos will understand the language thoroughly. Video captions help non-English-speaking users follow the material more efficiently, or translate it into a different language. The subtitles for videos you produce can help others create subtitles in the style of their choice.

Even among English speakers, subtitles for videos can expand accessibility. Video captions make it possible to consume your video content without the use of audio. Users can still watch and understand your video even when the sound is inappropriate or impractical, such as in a library, on public transportation, or in a noisy cafeteria.

3. Silent Autoplay

Many online videos play automatically when users scroll past or open the webpage the videos are featured on. At one point, most of these videos also played their audio automatically. This can be an effective way to grab a viewer’s attention and get them to check out an ad they might otherwise ignore.

The problem? Lots of video consumers and Internet users hate this option. Although it captures their attention, it also disrupts their experience and can even damage their opinion of the product or company being advertised in the video.

Many companies have tried to create a “happy medium” with the use of silent or muted autoplay. Users who scroll past a video or download its page can still see it play, and the content can still capture their attention without the use of loud, disruptive audio. Video captions make this possible.

Best Practices For Video Transcriptions, Captions, and Subtitles

Of course, there are right ways and wrong ways to create video transcriptions and add subtitles for videos. Rather than just throwing some text onto the screen, adding video captions takes a little more care. Fortunately, Rev makes this process a painless one, letting you get the benefits of video captions as quickly and efficiently as possible!

What not to Do With Video Captions:

The primary purpose of video captions, of course, is accessibility. Sloppy, incorrect, or unreadable video captions can confuse, frustrate, and misinform the viewer. Depending on your industry, poor video subtitles can even get you in trouble with regulators if you go against FCC recommendations.

There are some things you definitely don’t want to do when creating subtitles for videos!

  • Don’t try to make captions verbatim, word-for-word versions of the video audio. Video transcriptions should be exact replications, but not captions. Video captions should still be accurate while accommodating reading speed and time on screen. Shorten video captions, but preserve the original meaning.
  • Don’t get creative with the appearance of the text. Stick with a simple, readable font in a standard color. Save the creativity for your video’s content!
  • Don’t depend on free software to create automatic video captions. These options aren’t always the most reliable!
  • Don’t think you have to do it all by yourself! Services like Rev exist to help you transcribe audio to text.

Ignore these tips, and you could create some hilarious closed caption fails that may entertain, but not the way you were hoping!

closed captions mistakes

What to Do With Video Captions:

Depending on where you intend to post and share your video (such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, or your company website), best practices for video captions may differ slightly.

Follow these critical details for high-quality video captions, no matter where they’re viewed.

  • Legible, in a sans-serif font of consistent width and thick outlines
  • Easily readable, timed to show up on-screen long enough for viewers to follow easily
  • Written in a font that supports symbols, such as music notes, that can provide additional information
  • Appear on screen at a time that closely matches the speed of spoken words
  • Matches the style of the spoken word, even if abridged (e.g., informal or academic style)
  • Appear in about two lines of about 35 characters

How To Add Captions to Videos

The transcription process and adding video captions doesn’t have to be complicated!

Simply visit Rev and upload your video file, copy and paste the video URL, or download one from a primary video sharing platform such as YouTube or Vimeo.

Once you submit your video file, Rev’s team of transcriptionists goes to work. Working as fast as they can, our team of professionals creates an accurate caption file to be added to your video.

When we’re done with the transcription process, we’ll send you an email with your file for your review. You can edit your video and publish it virtually anywhere!

Take Advantage of Video Captions With Rev

Not only is it easy to choose Rev over video caption software, but it’s highly beneficial. Check out these benefits to captioning videos with Rev:

  • Secure and confidential
  • Tested, English-native transcriptionists, not machines
  • Available 24/7
  • 99% accuracy, 100% guaranteed
  • Lowest price ($1 per minute of audio) for the fastest turnaround time (24 hours or less for many files)
  • Trusted by 100,000 companies in different industries

How long does it take to caption videos?

Because Rev’s transcription team is available 24/7, we have some of the fastest turnaround time available! For video files under 30 minutes, you can usually expect to get your completed caption file back within 24 hours, or even sooner.

Longer recordings, or recordings with lower audio quality, may require extra time. We can provide an estimated turnaround time at checkout. This estimate is based on individual video length (not total order size), so you can expect a large order of short videos to be completed quickly.

For those working on tight deadlines, we also now offer rush transcription services.

The Final Word on Video Captions

Adding captions to video doesn’t have to be complicated when platforms like YouTube make it simple. Just be sure that you provide accurate, easy-to-read caption files so that viewers not only watch your whole video but also retain and engage with the content.

Ready to take your content to the next level? Learn more about Rev’s video caption services and how we can help you reach a more comprehensive, more engaged audience!