How to Add + Edit Facebook Automatic Captions to Video Ads

October 17, 2018 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: May 1, 2020

With the use of captivating visuals and a compelling story, Facebook video ads are a great way to convey important information to consumers. According to an advertising study conducted by Facebook, people watch an astounding 100 million hours of video on the social media platform every day. Yes, you read that correctly!

Many brands are increasingly distributing online content, making the competition for viewers’ attention much more challenging. Since consumers have more control over what content they engage with and for how long, it’s important that organizations focus on communicating their messages more effectively. By providing captions on Facebook video ads, businesses can capture their audience’s attention faster and longer.

80% of users react negatively toward the platform and advertisers when Facebook video ads autoplay with sound. In response, videos on Facebook’s newsfeed autoplay without sound, leaving users the option to opt in to sound. Overall, it’s important that your Facebook video ad doesn’t require sound to communicate your message.

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Why Brands Should Provide Captions on Facebook Video Ads

Rachel running in the friends' football game saying "huh! I almost caught that one"

For brands looking to improve their ads, Facebook offers a feature that automatically captions videos. The automated captioning tool generates the captions, and conveniently delivers them to the advertiser to review, edit, and save.

There are many benefits to captioning Facebook video ads. Did you know captions increase viewership for Facebook video by 12%? Additionally, there are over 48 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing in the United States. By failing to provide captions, you’re excluding a large portion of the population from fully enjoying your video. Lastly, many people view Facebook videos in sound-sensitive environments like at the office or in a quiet library; captions communicate what is being said in the Facebook video ad without the use of sound.

Adding Captions to Facebook Video Ads

Facebook’s automated caption tool is only available in English, and for brands in the United States and Canada. The tool allows advertisers to upload their own captions, or generate captions automatically. Captions will appear in every ad that uses the video. If there are changes made to captions in one ad, all other ads that use the video will change as well. When using Facebook’s automatic caption generator you have the option to delete, share, or download the captions to your computer once finished.

The Importance of Accurate Captions

Facebook generates captions within several minutes. While automatic captions generate in a short amount of time, automatic captions are known to be very inaccurate. The captions are created entirely by speech-to-text technology. Unfortunately, automatic speech recognition (ASR) alone isn’t reliable enough to be used on its own. Humans are still needed to correct any errors. Inaccurate captions can give your brand a bad look, and the potential to go viral (not it a good way). Inaccurate auto-captions even inspired a campaign called #NoMoreCraptions to spread awareness on better captioning on Youtube. It’s crucial to edit automatically generated captions on Facebook before publishing. Your brand could be negatively impacted if you publish without reviewing.

When you dig deeper, ASR shouldn’t be the sole method for captioning video content. There are many instances when the audio has a lot of background noise, accents, multiple speakers, or esoteric vocabulary. ASR may have a hard time deciphering what is being said. The goal is to create captions that accurately reflect the spoken content and with ASR, it’s easy for one word to be mistaken for another, potentially changing the entire meaning of a sentence.

Even though a 70-90% accuracy rate may seem great, when broken down, there will be many errors within the sentence. A 10% difference in accuracy is more significant than it may appear. For example, 67% accuracy means that ⅓ of the words in a sentence are incorrect. In a 10-word sentence, the ASR accuracy rate is 2% (67% raised to the 10th power). The relation of word-to-word accuracy and length of sentence is exponentially scaled, so rates can drastically plummet for longer forms of content. The table below can be used as a guide on accuracy rates for speech recognizers.

table measuring accuracy for rates of 50%,67%,75%,85%,90%,95%, and 99% rates


Uploading Your Own Captions

Hiring a transcription company is the best way to ensure accurate and high-quality captions. Instead of spending valuable time creating captions, brands can focus on what really matters: delivering quality video ads. If you want to give users the full and proper viewing experience, captions should be done by professionals. As mentioned before, ASR is not reliable when used on  its own. A transcription company will use human transcriptionists to make sure your captions are flawless. Once you have your captions, you can upload them onto Facebook.

Before we get started on step-by-step directions, make sure to upload a SubRip (.srt) file with the captions created for the video. A SRT file is the best format to use to create your own captions, and they are easy to create.

Keep in mind that when creating captions for Facebook, the file name should follow this format: “filename.[two-letter language code]_[two-letter country code]“. For example, a video file that’s in English and within the United States would be named “

Caption Standards

Whether you decide to use Facebook’s caption generator and edit the captions or upload your own (accurate) captions, it’s important that they adhere to these best practices for caption quality.

captioning standards are accuracy, synchronization, onscreen placement, and program completeness


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