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Point Of View

Facebook: Capturing Attention With Captions

Joshua WIlliams

Background

Facebook recently introduced automated captioning for sound-off video ads in its newsfeed. This service is available only in the US and Canada for ads in US English at present, but is set to be introduced globally imminently. In addition to the captions advertisers are already permitted to add, advertisers will now be able to automatically review and adapt the captions generated by Facebook, or simply allow Facebook to check the text as part of its review service.  

 

Details and Implications

With the exponential growth of mobile in recent years more content is being consumed on the go than ever before. However, according to research conducted by Facebook, 80% of people react negatively to loud videos automatically playing in their newsfeed, ultimately blaming the brand as well as the platform. Furthermore, an alarming 41% of videos inevitably prove impossible to understand when the sound is omitted.

 

This new update will not only see Facebook offering an automatic captioning service, but serving metrics to brands to indicate the exact percentage of users who actually watched their video ads with the sound off. Facebook is also actively encouraging brands to make their videos more visually appealing, especially as recent research indicates that around 65% of people who watch the first 3 seconds of a video watch at least 10 seconds of it.

 

For Facebook, the use of captioning is a further push to entice users to engage with content in its newsfeed and of course further monetize its video advertising product. The initial tests have inferred positive results, with captioning producing a 12% increase in average view time. This uplift should be especially apparent for video consumed on mobile as users usually rapidly scroll down their newsfeed.

 

For brands and advertisers this update presents an exciting opportunity to target users in a more diverse range of settings, as videos will possess a much greater chance of being viewed in previously noisy environments, such as shops and public transport. Content is still king, but now more than ever it should be relevant either with or without sound. Furthermore, videos with a strong call to action should also be utilized more frequently by brands.

 

Summary/ POV

Although the addition of captioning is a relatively innocuous update, the repercussions for brands and advertisers could prove to be great. The need to create content that is truly immersive, captivating and adaptive is more important than ever before. Brands should now consider not only device type but also the potential location and format videos could be viewed in.  For Facebook it’s all about evolving its ad offering to continue to be both beneficial to its users and advertisers.