Captioning on YouTube has long been a debatable topic. Because captioning is not legally required for most YouTube videos (like it is for a lot of other online video), many users wonder if captioning their YouTube videos is really worth it.
However, in recent weeks captioning on YouTube has become a trendy topic: hard of hearing YouTuber Rikki Poynter has been highlighted on the BBC, Huffington Post, and Upworthy for her campaign to get creators to caption their videos; Tyler Oakley followed suit by captioning his entire channel and posting a video about the importance of captioning:
Calculating the Cost of Adding YouTube Closed Captions
For YouTubers, cost is usually the top concern when it comes to captioning, and return on investment is a risk that some people aren’t willing to take: they want to know that captioning will pay off. To help alleviate some of this uncertainty, 3Play Media has introduced a free tool that will calculate the ROI of YouTube closed captions and of captioning your YouTube channel.
The ROI Calculator is based on data from a controlled study by Discovery Digital Networks (DDN) on captioning for YouTube. DDN studied the SEO impact of captioning across 8 channels, comparing the data from 125 captioned videos to that of 209 uncaptioned videos over a 16-month period. The result of the study was that Discovery Digital Networks found a 7.32% lifetime increase in views on their captioned videos.
Using this metric as a calculation for YouTube CPM earnings, we can calculate both an estimated increase in views attributable to captioning and an estimated ROI for captioning. Keep in mind that the ROI calculation only takes into account views, and obviously CPM earnings involve other metrics: however, captions are likely to increase these metrics (like YouTube watch time, retention, and user engagement), as well. If you know your CPM, you can input that to create a more accurate ROI.
To calculate your ROI, simply input a URL to one of your YouTube videos, press calculate, and view your results! Click on the image below to open up the tool:
2 Tips for Calculating your ROI from Closed Captions
- Entering a link to an established YouTube video will give you a much more accurate calculation. Try not to link to a brand new video!
- Entering a link to a video that is about the average duration of most videos on your channel will give you a more accurate channel calculation. Or, you can input your average video duration on your results page.
As an example, here are the ROI Calculator’s results for PewDiePie:
The Benefits of Closed Captioning Your Videos
Obviously, not every YouTuber has metrics like PewDiePie, but you get the idea. For large channels, the estimated ROI is impressive enough that there is no reason not to caption. For people who calculate a negative ROI, consider the other benefits of captioning:
- Captions are crucial for providing accessibility to YouTube fans who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Non-automatic captions are indexed by Google and YouTube, so they help people find your videos.
- A study by the Office of Communications in the UK found that 80% of people who used closed captions were not deaf or hard of hearing.
- Captions make videos easier to understand in the case of accents, complex language, difficult subject matter, and background noise.
- Captions allow you to watch videos in sound-sensitive environments like libraries, offices, and gyms.
Captions vastly improve comprehension for viewers who know English as a second language: this is critical on YouTube, where almost 70% of views come from non-English speaking countries.
The ROI Calculator is a fun tool that can also help you gauge the practicality of adding captions to your channel. Try out your own videos, or check out the ROI of your favorite YouTube creators!