Captions Increase Viewership for Facebook Video Ads by 12%

February 12, 2016 BY EMILY GRIFFIN
Updated: June 3, 2019

Captions Increase Viewership for Facebook Video Ads by 12%

Facebook announced updates to its video ad features in reaction to an internal study of user behavior.

One of the major changes to Facebook video ads is that they will auto-play with closed captions forced on. Plus, Facebook can add automatically generated captions to videos that don’t have captions uploaded.

The Data

Facebook’s video advertising study found that:

  • Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video each day
  • 80% of Facebook users react negatively to video ads autoplaying with sound on
  • Poor mobile video viewing experience damages the Facebook brand and the advertiser’s brand
  • 41% of videos are incomprehensible without sound or captions
  • Captions increase view time for Facebook videos by 12%
  • One client in the study saw an increase in watch time of 25% for captioned videos
  • 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch for at least ten seconds, so capturing attention at the start is key

The take-away message to advertisers is to design videos that communicate visually — especially in the first 10 seconds. Using logos, striking images, or captions are effective in hooking the viewer in that critical window of time.

Facebook Auto-captioning

Captions are a way to tell someone who’s in a sound-off environment what the video is about quickly. What we’ve seen in some of our internal tests is adding captions actually increased view time by an average of 12%.

Matt Idema

Previously, Facebook allowed advertisers to upload videos with open captions embedded or closed captions that the user would have to toggle on. If the advertiser didn’t supply captions, there simply were none.

As a result of their research findings, Facebook now gives advertisers the option to get automatic captions for videos they upload. This prompts Facebook to create a speech-to-text transcript of the video.

If they’re anything like YouTube’s automatic captions, they will only be about 70% accurate, lacking correct punctuation, proper names, speaker IDs, and sound effect description.

Automatic captions require manual quality control, which is why Facebook gives advertisers editing privileges of the captions before the video is published.

The automated caption tool will roll out globally to Ads Manager and Power Editor in the coming weeks for US English captions only.

Why Automatic Captioning Is Not For Everyone

Brands can still submit their own closed captions with videos. They may prefer to submit their own captions if:

  • It’s more cost-effective to transcribe video and create captions outside of Facebook
  • They do not want to have to edit captions themselves
  • They are not satisfied with Facebook’s caption quality
  • They prefer open captioning
  • They want to provide captions for non-English videos
  • They want to include subtitles in other languages

How to Add Closed Captions to Facebook Videos

For a tutorial on adding captions to Facebook videos, check out:

How To Add Captions & Subtitles to Facebook Videos: Free Guide

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