Captions Increase Viewership for Facebook Video Ads by 12%

July 28, 2020 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: March 30, 2021

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In reaction to an internal study on user behavior, Facebook made updates to its video ad features.

Facebook video ads auto-play without sound and with closed captions forced on. Plus, Facebook can add automatically generated captions to videos that don’t have captions uploaded.

Among many fascinating and eye-opening statistics uncovered in Facebook’s research study, one stat that stood out was that captions increase view time by 12%! That means if you’re an advertiser looking to get more consumers’ eyes on your ads, adding captions will help do the trick. 


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Creating Video Ads for Mobile

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Video is more available today than ever before. With the increasing number of smartphones and tablets owned, more people are surfing the internet and accessing information. 

Since the surge in smartphone users, more people are connected to the digital world via mobile-feed and it’s changing the way in which we view and absorb information. According to OuterBox, over 230 million U.S. consumers own smartphones and 79% of smartphone owners have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months. 

In addition, more people are watching videos on their devices. Facebook users watch over 100 million hours of video each day. That’s an astronomical amount of video! 

With that being said, how do advertisers leverage consumers’ use of smartphones and their love for videos to create compelling advertisements? 

That’s where captions come in… 

Facebook found that users prefer opting in to sound when browsing through their newsfeed. This is because many video ads unexpectedly play loudly. In fact, 80% of users react negatively both toward the advertiser and platform when videos autoplay with sound. 

Therefore, advertisers should create ads that don’t require sound in order to communicate a message. 

Without sound, captions help to deliver your message in an engaging and effective way. Plus, captions make videos accessible to people with disabilities. 

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Facebook’s Auto-Captions for Video Ads

Man lying on couch browsing social media.

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 the videos they upload. This prompts Facebook to create a speech-to-text transcript of the video. 

Similar to YouTube’s automatic captions, they are notoriously inaccurate – lacking correct punctuation, proper names, speaker IDs, and sound effect description.

For advertisers trying to get viewers’ attention using Facebook, accurate captions are essential. Inaccurate captions have been shown to harm your company’s brand from mistakes like embarrassing spelling errors or excluding certain users, like people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. 

Automatic captions are a step in the right direction and are a great tool to increase the accessibility of your content. However, automatic captions should be edited whenever possible, in order to be fully accessible.

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

Advertisers can choose to edit the captions on their own or outsource the captions to a vendor. Either way, you shouldn’t publish your ad without carefully reviewing the captions. 

If you choose to go the DIY route, it may not be the most cost- and time-efficient way to captioning – especially at scale. 

The best way to caption your Facebook ads is to outsource to a vendor. With a professional captioning company, you can let the vendor focus on accuracy, file formats, and other captioning requirements while you focus on delivering creative and engaging ads!  

The Data

We recommend you check out Facebook’s video advertising study. Here’s are some of the main takeaways:

  • 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.

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This post was originally published on February 26, 2016, by Emily Griffin and has since been updated for clarity and accuracy.

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