Benefits of Using Closed Captions in Video Production
Question: How many YouTube views would it take to break even on time and cost of captioning videos?
The answer isn’t simple but the signs are good. In fact, the metrics for monetising a YouTube video are very complex; many factors other than views are taken into account for how much money would be made as a YouTube partner. However, if views are the only thing considered, this is how the economy would play out.
The typical range of YouTube CPM earnings is between $1 and $10 ($0.001 and $0.01 per view). For a 2 minute video, it would cost $5 to caption it through 3Play Media or CaptionsForYouTube. If CPM earnings are high, only 6,800 lifetime views are needed to breakeven. On the other hand, if CPM earnings are low, 68,000 lifetime views would get a positive ROI. For example, A 5 minute video would need between 17,000 and 170,000 lifetime views to make the money back which was spent on captioning, depending on the CPM earnings. However, bear in mind we are only looking at monetising options here; there are considerable benefits from captioning with general SEO returns on video.
When Does Captioning Become a Worthwhile Investment on YouTube?
Following the ROI analysis, it can be determined from an economic standpoint whether or not it is worth captioning video in the YouTube channel. Looking at two Discovery Digital Networks channels as exemplars protraying the potential earnings of adding captions to a YouTube channel. (These are hypothetical estimates and are not part of a Discovery Digital Networks study.) A channel such as DNews, which has 130 million views, could be expected to gain approximately 10 million views due to video captioning (given the 7.32% documented increase). There are about 1100 videos on the DNews channel, each about 3 minutes long, so captioning their entire channel, would cost $8,250 approximately. If the $1-$10 CPM range is used, the 10 million views gained by captions would equate to earnings between $10,000 & $100,000. Subtracting caption costs, the ROI would be anywhere between $1,750 and $91,750.
Shots of Awe, a smaller Discovery Digital Networks channel, has over 7 million views and has an expected increase of over 500,000 views by captioning the whole channel. 50 videos have been uploaded on the Shots of Awe channel and each video is about two and half minutes long, meaning to caption the whole channel would cost about $312.50. Using the same CPM range as before, of $1-$10, 500,000 views gained from captioning would equate to between $500 and $5,000 of earnings. Take away the cost of captions, the ROI would be between $187.50 and $4,687.50. Again, the cost of captioning would be paid back and more.
So what does this mean for Video ROI?
The SEO studies conducted by Discovery Digital Networks, The American Life and SafeNet help to quantify the benefits of captions and transcriptions. The documented increases in views, search traffic, user engagement and search rank represents exciting measures of the impact of captioning on video SEO.
Discovery Digital Networks data on percent of views increase allows an estimate of the ROI of captioning YouTube videos to be made, which, up until recently, has been difficult to quantify. Deciding whether to caption a video or not depends on numerous factors; the positives of these case studies are hard to ignore, howver many people find the benefits of captioning worth the investment.