Voice-over localization requests for commercial spots have increased for one simple reason – the internet. As content keeps moving online, marketing materials are following. And because the internet favors language customization, this has led to increased internationalization and transcreation. What can multimedia localization professionals do to prepare for these kinds of projects? Start here.
This post will list 3 essential tips for recording foreign-language voice-over for online commercial spots.
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Online adspend drives commercial audio & video localization
It’s hard to overstate just how much marketing dollars have moved online in the last decade. Online advertising actually overtook TV in the summer of 2017 and is still growing. In fact, PwC projects online adspend to be 70% greater than TV within four years, per their latest Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report. And, they say, most of that adspend will be on mobile and focus heavily on video.
Since online platforms allow for much more language customization – and in fact favor localized content – this one factor is driving the surge in dubbing and subtitling for online spots. This is causing some adjustment for localization professionals who may not be intimately familiar with marketing content and its specific workflow. Yes, online spots are ultimately audio & video content, but their localization processes have a few critical differences. Here's what you need to know.
[Note: These trends are also affecting video localization in general, especially when it comes to usage. For more information on this specific topic, see our previous post, What You Must Know About Usage for Online Video Voice-Over & Dubbing.]
1. Expert script editing for timing is crucial for project success.
Script translations expand – that’s just the reality of voice-over and dubbing. This is even the case on full marketing transcreation projects – the first-pass scripts for those spots are often slightly too long to fit within the time allowed by the original.
Marketing copy, however, is written to exacting specifications. Next time you watch an online pre-roll spot – before a video on YouTube, for example – note how the voice-over is read so that it’s perfectly synchronized to picture and any backing music. Remember that this copy has been worked and re-worked to create a specific pace and tone, rendering a tight performance that must be recreated in the localized versions.
For this reason, it’s critical to edit the localized scripts so that they’ll fit within the time allotted – and to do so rigorously. Remember that even one or two extra syllables may make a line sound rushed, may require re-timing a section, and may affect the overall performance. Ultimately, a script that isn’t timed exactingly may lessen the impact of your localized commercial.
2. Allow more time for casting.
Tricky performances require expert foreign-language voice-over talents. Even more importantly, they require the right talent – the one who’s the perfect fit for a brand, who can speak to its specific audience, and who can sell the specific product or service. Finding these talents can be especially difficult for languages which have relatively small native-speaker populations.
It’s absolutely critical to build foreign-language talent casting into commercial spot localization timelines, as well as allow enough time for clients and creative directors to do a full review cycle. Likewise, it’s often a good idea to build custom auditions into the budget and timeline for trickier spots and to ensure that there won’t be any surprises in the studio. Of course, this is a service that JBI Studios provides.
3. Engage your in-country or community contacts.
Ideally, you or your client will have a marketing manager or liaison for each target locale. Same if your spot is for a foreign-language audience in the US – it’s best practice to engage someone from that community in the marketing and branding push. And of course, it’s critical to bring these contacts into your casting and voice-over production.
Why? First, because native speakers are by far the best people to provide notes on foreign-language casting. For example, the right Japanese voiceover read may not sound like the best one to an English speaker – a native ear is critical to picking the right talent. Second, your in-country contacts have insights about your local audience and how to speak to it, which are invaluable when picking your brand voice or crafting a performance. In short, in-country or community contacts are in a unique position to ensure that your spots engage your local audience and boost your brand presence.
Labor-intensive video localization & post
It’s easy to think that localizing online spots will be relatively straight-forward – after all, most of them are only 60 or 30 seconds long. But in fact, they are more labor-intensive than most kinds of voice-over services, including a lot of lip-sync dubbing. Besides casting for just the right talents or collecting custom auditions, script editing and translation review timelines can be lengthy. Moreover, the actual sessions can take longer, as directors and stakeholders work to dial in the perfect performance. Finally, spot post-production often has special requirements, from music tweaks to last-minute changes, and even pick-ups. When setting up one of these projects, make sure to allow enough time to get them right and to get full reviews from all stakeholders. This is the only way to ensure that your spots make their air-dates and engage your audience.