Digital Content – The Mobile Revolution is Upon Us

welocalize July 3, 2017

Insights from LocLeaders Barcelona 2017

Stephanie Emmanouel is General Manager, Connected Customer Marketing at Somo. Stephanie took part as a guest panelist at LocLeaders Forum 2017 Barcelona. In this blog, she summarizes some of her key insights from the event, including the rapidly-changing face of content, speech-to-speech translation and the importance of localization for mobile platforms.

The world is changing at a faster pace than ever before. Every year around the same time, the digital industry as a whole, eagerly awaits the latest Internet Trends Report by Mary Meeker. The 355 slide document provides deep insight into the latest industry trends, and according to the 2017 report, 3.4 billion people are now connected to the internet. This equates to almost 50% of the world’s population. At the same time, there are 5 billion unique mobile users (71% penetration) and 2.8 billion smartphones globally.

With such available access, brands have the opportunity to engage with global audiences. It means that anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world can create and publish content. So where are users actually spending their time online? On average, US consumers spend 5.6 hours per day online – 3.1 hours on mobile devices alone. There are more than 2.7 billion people accessing social media and 2.6 billion gamers.

Content is no longer limited to the written word, but includes pictures, voice, video, emoticons and much more. This adds another layer of complexity when developing culturally relevant content for multiple audiences, all using a variety of devices and platforms.

What do brands need to consider when creating content for a mobile first world? Depending on the device and context there are a number of things to consider:

  • Smaller screen space = potentially very small text size.
  • Vertical or landscape formats, mean no keyboard. It’s all touch or scroll based.
  • Finger tapping – not mouse or trackpad usage for selection.
  • Inconsistency between desktop and mobile User Interfaces.
  • Visibility of just a single window.
  • Intermittent and potentially slow internet connectivity.
  • Visual and voice content opposed to text.

In addition, the internet is now “always on” – especially due to mobile device usage. This means that we can create LIVE content. Facebook, Twitter, Twitch and Snapchat are prime examples of LIVE content. Today, a global community can watch the inauguration of a new president or the World Cup final live and comment, real-time, in their native language.

How can the language services industry meet the requirements of such a demanding real-time audience at a global level? At Welocalize’s LocLeaders Forum event in Barcelona, we discussed the role of machine translation (MT) with a panel of experts from Harley-Davidson, Dell, Ciena and Somo. It is self-evident that MT will build the foundation of translating LIVE content.

Looking into the future, we can already catch a glimpse of the new world; a world of zero user interface, mixed reality, augmented reality and virtual reality. In the US, 20% of all Google search queries, originating from a mobile device, are voice triggered. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Blippar are leading the way in making these concepts of the future a reality for brands.

In the context of localization, we can already experiment with fun early stage implementations of speech-to-speech translation in mainstream consumer applications. At LocLeaders, I was able to demonstrate speech-to-speech translation using Hostelworld. Hostelworld is a global travel brand targeting a younger demographic and recently launched its ‘Speak the World’ feature in its mobile application. This enables users to immediately translate speech into up to 43 languages. It uses Google Cloud translation capabilities and helps travelers to go even further off the beaten track and fully immerse themselves in the local culture by eliminating language barriers. The demo was fun to give all LocLeaders attendees insights into the future of localization and how global brands will communicate with their multilingual audiences in the future.

Beyond the real world, we will be challenged by having to differentiate between an actual “human conversation” and a conversation between non humans. Listen to Vladimir and Estragon – two bots – having a “conversation” with each other: to have some insight in what the future of MT could hold.


Stephanie Emmanouel is General Manager, Connected Customer Marketing at Somo. Stephanie took part in LocLeaders Forum Barcelona 2017 as a guest panelist for the session, Implementing MT: Leading with Innovation.