Increase Watch Time and Boost Engagement with MP4 Subtitles

By: Verbit Editorial
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Video has rapidly emerged as one of the most versatile forms of digital media. While media hosting platforms generally accept a wide range of video file formats, perhaps the most common file type is the MP4. MP4 files are one of the most universally compatible formats. As such, it’s easy to post content across multiple platforms, websites and applications.

Today, users are generating and sharing video content at an eye-popping rate. Even with the high volume, business leaders and content creators can and must take steps to ensure that their content is engaging, effective and accessible to all. Adding subtitles to MP4 video content can boost viewer engagement while offering more inclusive viewing experiences to diverse audiences.

Table of Contents:

What is an MP4 File?

MP4 stands for MPEG-4 Part 14 and is a video file format that uses the MPEG-4 encoding algorithm. These files are relatively small but capable of delivering quality audio and video content on various media platforms. Apple prefers this file format, which is also compatible with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Subtitles or Captions for MP4 Files?

Video editing software and media hosting platforms often use the terms “subtitles” and “captions” interchangeably. However, it is essential for creators to understand the key differences between these two captioning styles.

Subtitles, in general, represent only the spoken text of a video. They’re an excellent tool for audience members viewing content in non-native languages because they provide on-screen translation of video dialogue. However, subtitles don’t typically convey non-speech audio elements like sound effects or music cues. Because they don’t offer these additional audio elements, subtitles don’t provide an equitable viewing experience for all.

Captions, on the other hand, typically include every audio element of a video. This means that in addition to representing the spoken dialogue, captions convey sound cues, pauses, inaudible whispers and more. Due to their comprehensive nature, captions are a better means of improving the accessibility of video content. Detailed, accurate captions can support the comprehension and engagement of viewers who are Deaf or hard of hearing, as well as those with ADHD and auditory processing disorders.

What are the Benefits of Captioning MP4 Videos?

Improved accessibility isn’t the only reason to add subtitles to MP4 video. A few of the other benefits of accurate captions include the following:

Increased engagement

On average, studies suggest that 80% of viewers are more likely to watch a video to completion if it includes captions. This is likely because a rapidly growing percentage of viewers choose to watch video content with the sound off. Audience members may be unable to watch a video with the sound on because, for example, they are out in public. In such cases, the messaging of a video without captions would be lost. Furthermore, sound effects and music often contribute in major ways to the overall plot or atmosphere of a video. If a viewer can’t experience all of these elements in tandem, their experience is likely to be less exciting or engaging. 

Greater inclusivity

In addition to improving accessibility for viewers who experience some degree of hearing loss, captions can also provide critical support for viewers with other needs. For example, captions can be extremely beneficial for viewers who are consuming content in a non-native language. Captions can also help viewers with ADHD, and auditory processing disorders follow along with a video in real time.

How to Add Subtitles to an MP4

There are a few different ways creators can add subtitles to MP4 files.  If your project is still in the editing stage, your captioning options can vary depending on the video editing software. For example, users can somewhat easily add Adobe Premiere subtitles within the platform and even customize things like subtitle font and color. On the other hand, iMovie users must invest a fair amount of time and effort to manually caption their content, as the platform does not have a pre-existing captioning workflow.

Rather than adding subtitles to MP4 video during the editing process, creators can generate the file during post-production. These versatile caption files make adding captions to video content across multiple platforms easier without needing to tailor your captioning efforts to the capabilities of specific editing software.

How to Add Captions to Your MP4 Video

Those looking to obtain a caption file for their final video project can do so in a few different ways. It is possible for individuals to manually create caption files for their content, but this process tends to be incredibly tedious and time-consuming. Furthermore, individuals without adequate professional transcription training are prone to making a substantial number of errors. Those errors will significantly compromise a video’s accessibility.

Professional transcribers are available for hire and generally achieve exceptionally high accuracy rates. However, these professionals can be expensive to retain. Depending on the provider, they may encounter bandwidth issues when they need to transcribe a high volume of material.

Alternatively, creators can choose to partner with a professional video captioning service like Verbit. Verbit uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence software in conjunction with a vast network of professionally trained human transcribers. Together, the technology and professionals produce captions with accuracy rates as high as 99% with impressive turnaround times.

When a creator uploads a video to Verbit’s platform, its proprietary artificial intelligence software generates the first draft. From there, Verbit’s human transcribers step in to review and edit for optimal accuracy. This final transcript then helps to create a captioning file that contains accurate timings. The user can then take that file and easily upload it as a supplement to a video that’s ready for publishing. Verbit offers its captioning files in a wide variety of file formats like SRT, SCC, and WebVTT files. These options provide users flexibility to scale their content across multiple sites, social networks and media hosting platforms.

Grow Your Audience with Verbit

Verbit is proud to offer a full suite of accessibility tools, including captioning, transcription, translation and audio description. These solutions help creators maximize the reach of their content while offering more inclusive viewing experiences. Reach out today for a quote or to learn more about how to add subtitles to a video with the help of Verbit’s industry-leading technology solutions and software integrations.