Closed captioning is often used by the deaf, hard of hearing, or people like myself (too many people in Hollywood seem to think mumbling is acting and I often lose words because of this whole talking under the breath craze). It is a full transcript of the video given in subtitle form. Although it’s mainly used in this capacity, closed captioning has several uses that can greatly aid ALL users whether they require captions for understanding or not.
Let’s consider video for a moment. Video can present complex ideas and thoughts, it can teach, and it can entertain. It’s no secret that video searches are becoming very popular, and that the growth in video searches is continuing to grow. However, despite this growth search engines cannot parse the video to search for context. Instead they rely on titles, tags, and other information available on the same page as the video. Through closed captioning, if you present the full transcript of the video on the same page, the search engines now can parse ALL of the words used in the video and thus your videos will be ranked far better and more accurately.
More over, closed captioning provides a means to navigate your video far easier. If there is a complete transcript of the video available, than anyone can search for words and phrases they want to watch within the transcript and jump to the appropriate time in the video and view it.
Lastly, new laws are coming out that dictate that a lot of online video needs to be closed captioned. Some might say I should have opened with the “you have to do it or else” bit, but I figured I will start with how it will help you.
For a practical demonstration of the benefits of closed caption we can look at CNBC. CNBC has a lot of video: news, interviews, etc. To get it all up to snuff would take a monumental amount of work. So CNBC contracted to a company called RAMP and what RAMP did was automate the process of transcribing the video. The benefits of this process are many. First it allowed a rapid way to add captioning to all of CNBC’s media on the fly without the aid of a poor intern slaving away in front of the computer constantly hitting pause, rewind, play. Secondly, the transcript was datamined for keywords, terms, stock tickers and the like. Thus the search media was found and added. Next the service includes a full searchable transcript that allows the user to skip to whatever they are highlighting. This adds a high level of navigation to the video.
And the pay off? According to RAMP, the added features increase session length by almost 90% and video completion by almost 70%. Video is not something easily interactable. However, by adding closed captioning, not only does the video become interactable, but it becomes navigable and searchable.
So if you don’t want to do us a favor, do yourself a favor and add closed captioning.