Time to think about making your video effective without sound

October 23, 2017
Industry News

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Video that automatically plays with the sound on is one of the least-liked ad formats.

It seems odd to be writing about how to make silent videos more effective at a time when some of us are learning how to use verbal commands with devices like Alexa, but billions of people are still spending time watching sound-off video advertisement on digital platforms. This is a huge opportunity for advertisers if they can tailor their video to engage people’s attention quickly and still deliver a compelling impression without the help of voiceover, music or sound logos.

Last year, Digiday reported that of the 8 billion daily video views on Facebook 85% were viewed with the sound off. And my suspicion is that this proportion is going to hold good even now. Turning the sound off in the app may not be easy but after the first unpleasant surprise blast, my bet is that many people will be motivated to figure it out. What evidence do I have that this will be the case? Well, funnily enough it comes from the nice people at Facebook. Early last year a post by Facebook Business stated, “In mobile-feed environments, people prefer having the choice to opt in to sound. Our research found that when feed-based mobile video ads play loudly when people aren’t expecting it, 80% react negatively, both toward the platform and the advertiser.” But, of course, that research is over a year out of date now, things must have changed right?

Kantar Millward Brown’s AdReaction: Gen X, Y, Z released earlier this year finds strong negativity towards auto-play ads (both in social apps and in banners), and social click to play was much better received than either auto-play format. People expect to control their digital experience and as the Coalition For Better Ads research finds video that automatically plays with the sound on is one of the least-liked ad formats out there.

So what do advertisers need to do? First off, not simply running your TV execution in the News Feed. Our research finds which a cheap option it is risky, many repurposed ads simply bomb. And guess what? Facebook Creative Shop agrees that ad recall is stronger when the creative is tailored specifically for mobile. This in-house creative unit of Facebook is busy helping advertisers turn TVCs into effective mobile videos. Better yet, advertisers should consider whether to use sound at all and create soundless video bearing in mind these three findings from our research:

1. Grab attention immediately.
You have less than 3 seconds to engage people’s attention. What is going to be the cue or trigger that gets people to stop scrolling and look at your video? It could actually be that your brand is compelling enough to get that attention on its own.

2. Work with the mobile mind-set
With sound off people pay more attention to visuals so work hard to maintain interest. Those Tasty app videos have a horrid fascination in part because they are speeded up and you know the pay-off is coming soon.

3. Use captions wisely
Facebook’s internal tests show that captioned video ads increase video view time by an average of 12% but do not rely on them for communications, make sure the action delivers the impression and features the brand.
Whatever you do with your video, remember, people appreciate brevity, keep it short.
About Kantar MillwardBrown
Kantar Millward Brown is a leading global research agency specialising in advertising effectiveness, strategic communication, media and digital, and brand equity research. The company helps clients grow great brands through comprehensive research-based qualitative and quantitative solutions. Kantar Millward Brown operates in more than 55 countries and is part of WPP’s Kantar group, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies. Learn more at www.millwardbrown.com.