Prioritizing Localization Earlier in the Media Supply Chain

The surge of content localization is a prolifically discussed topic, and it’s no secret that localization has become essential for content providers, streaming platforms, and broadcast networks to monetize their content, attract new subscribers and viewers, and ultimately provide more culturally relevant content. What was often a scalable investment for media organizations to enhance their global reach, localizing content is experiencing a supply chain bottleneck. Whether this is due to there simply not being enough linguists and translators to go around or there is a misalignment between market needs and what talent can and wants to offer – one thing is for certain, there is more demand than supply.

Complexities of Localization Warrant Planning Ahead

There are many things in life that are more complicated than we think at first and localization is one of those – and we know the process of localization entails much more than simply translating the script and adding subs and dubs. Yet, in some cases, localization is still even considered an afterthought. However, it is incredibly complex and requires it to be understood as a globalized business process, a vital part of content development, and ideally, integrated earlier into the project’s development – rather than the last step of delivery.

Localization service providers are looking to further streamline their workflows, and offer more efficient localization services, so they can handle the immense market demand. This means we need to rethink workflows, implement new technologies, and understand the cost and efficiency benefits of automation, to scale localization services as necessary. This kind of strategy requires that technology providers, localization teams, and service providers work with other key stakeholders in the content development process side by side – turning it into a “global-ready” project earlier on in the production timeline.

Pushing Localization Upstream

Ideally, we expect a localization strategy to be carried out with as few barriers as possible, and by considering this earlier on in the content production pipeline, a localized-ready piece of content accelerates time to market, lowering costs and increasing efficiencies and economies of scale over time. With budgets being so tight, talent in short supply, and translators pressured to meet deadlines – maximizing translation and localization should be a key strategy.

This means working in a localization strategy upstream – ensuring localization providers and tools get involved and integrated earlier in the production and post-production supply chains. This will help to evaluate what the localization needs will be, providing more context on the show, and cultural considerations for the region – all while keeping the true essence of the original content. When you’re integrating localization earlier on in the process, you’re at an advantage to air or stream the localized versions simultaneously with the original version. Productions may even benefit from having a localization consultant on the set and making sure localization teams see a first cut to better evaluate and consider the needs of a global audience.

If we start the localization process sooner in the media supply chain the collaboration between all creative parties can happen more effectively, allowing plenty of time for accurate subbing and dubbing so we’re not left scrambling to meet demands. Ultimately, the creative goals of a piece of content can be more closely honored and it truly lands a global audience. This type of pre-planning from an early stage will help creators achieve the desired results.

Considering Automation Tools for Creative Assistance

We’re already witnessing enhanced workflows using cloud computing, which has simplified the concept of “anywhere localization,” and helped reduce the time to market. The advancements in AI technologies and machine learning have further enabled improved volume and consistent quality localization outputs. As an industry that’s constantly adopting and adapting to the latest developments in technology, and audiences who have grown accustomed to a world of accessible content at the click of a button, it’s a natural step forward to consider developing more streamlined operations with technology, while keeping humans closely in the loop. AI technology engineered for the localization market should be looked at as an operational tool within the production workflow, making the process more efficient and cutting down on the time it takes to complete tasks. Imagine completing a new film or TV production, and having 10 or 20 language versions localized to within 90% of completeness before it goes to the distribution team to sell to Market.  Then, once sold or licensed to a particular territory, the content would only need a quick human “cleanup” to make it perfect, and send it on its way to be enjoyed by the consumer. Bottleneck solved. 

As competition for viewers and subscriber retention continues to reach new heights, technology has a lot to do with providing the right content for viewers’ demands. And when we’re addressing business challenges, those often turn into technological challenges, where we find ourselves having to optimize our technology back-ends. Traditional siloed approaches to content production are no longer adequate, meaning all parts of the media supply chain need to be connected – which will ultimately become a business enabler. Consumer demand and profitability are driving the need for streamlined and integrated media supply chains and automated localization tools for localizers and translators help to make the localization process much more efficient. A localization service provider with a forward-looking technology toolset can serve as a business driver to assist a content company in reaching its full potential – especially as it’s continually evolving its content to consumer wants.

As we work toward streamlining localization workflows one focus is on expanding the bandwidth for a translator, essentially increasing their work opportunities by automating processes and providing them with the tools to achieve more. Ultimately, these functions help businesses and translators reduce the time spent on repetitive, manual tasks and in some cases, increase throughput by up to 30%. As an industry, there are many collaborative and sustainable ways we can help companies scale to handle the demand for globalized content and assist our teams and talent focus on more productive tasks. Starting the localization process earlier in production and post-production cycles coupled with machine translation and AI tools can prove to be a cost-effective and efficiency-focused approach to addressing the supply/demand challenges that localization service providers are facing.

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