Localizing content is the process of adapting written and spoken material to a specific language or culture, including accents and slang when applicable, so that it seems natural to that particular region. As such, true localization encompasses considerably more than simply translation and comprises language, culture, accent, colloquialisms, customs, regional traditions and other characteristics of the targeted region.
Whilst the advent of Internet has opened the gates of international markets and created a shared platform for expression, communication, and collaboration, it has not, as of today, completely overcome the language barrier.
Can You Rely on Automated Translation?
Whilst tools such as Google Translate are improving all the time, they still are far away from giving a translation that mimics natural regional languages and guesswork is still involved in understanding the nuances – and sometimes actual meaning – of the translation.
When it comes to the spoken word, as in podcasts or videos, automation still has a long time to go. Even something seemingly as simple as transcribing the spoken text (try turning any YouTube video captions on) is still fraught with misunderstandings. Though these might occasionally generate bursts of laughter, in general, they simply detract from the experience of watching the video. Expecting robotic voices to approach natural language flow anytime soon is unrealistic.
So, especially when relying on spoken words, making information available in other languages and taking cultural differences into account requires human intervention at multiple levels. Good planning and execution are in no small part enhanced by relying on stable and experienced service providers at every stage of the process.
Should You Invest in Localization?
That entirely depends on your goals. If you intend to maximize your growth, keeping an eye of future markets is essential, as well as devising proper strategies to make the most of capturing significant shares of these new markets as they come into existence.
With the share of online buying set to jump from 58.3% in 2016 to 65.2% in 2021 (1.), ensuring proper localization of all online material will play a critical role in maintaining a competitive advantage and attract the newcomers to online shopping. This applies both for B2B and for B2C.
As such, it is crucial to be ready to localize all content, written, audio and audio-visual, into the leading target languages (3.). In addition, keeping an eye on the local distribution of future consumers, born out of the changing landscape of emerging middle class in urban and semi-urban areas (2.) in emerging countries is paramount when devising an effective localization strategy.