Sounding Off: Tips For Amplifying Muted Autoplay Video Ads

  • October 15, 2016

Sounding Off: Tips For Amplifying Muted Autoplay Video Ads by Ittai Shiu

The phrase “silence is golden” has never been more true for advertisers and publishers than it is now.

In the age of digital, mobile, and social, both advertisers and publishers are taking to these channels to promote their brand and disseminate content. Facebook is practically a publisher’s hub for video content; any given scroll through a user’s Facebook newsfeed can include breaking news clips, DIY recipe micro-videos, cute kitten compilations, and beyond. Advertisers have gotten in line with the positive response from consumers and incorporated pre-roll, native, and other features into their own marketing strategies for social.

This seems like the perfect way for advertisers and publishers to combine forces to drive consumer engagement, brand recognition, and, ultimately, revenue. But by looking at how social network users behave online, the situation becomes murkier: Consumers view about 85 percent of Facebook videos without sound. Advertisers and publishers need to embrace this trend and strategize on how to make the most of video without sound.

Visual Emphasis

Visual holds more sway than audio. For example, bright visual messaging can reach content-immersed consumers at a higher success rate than audio messaging alone. It may sound simple, but advertisers must design their videos with the notion that users will never turn their sound on, and strong visual silent messaging can influence a user’s actions. Many times, users may want to continue watching videos after the autoplay starts, but are not in an appropriate setting or situation to activate the sound. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a completely quiet room only to have a video’s audio fill the awkward void.

Short and Sweet

Geico’s ads are a great example of direct and effective advertising. While the company certainly has a variety of produced creatives, the message is always short and sweet: Go to Geico and you’ll get more out of their insurance offering for your money. Beyond that, the company perfectly embodies the growing need for marketers to find a way to convey a message in a short amount of time, as users’ attention spans continue to decrease. Realizing this, its marketers have excelled in creating short, entertaining, and favorable spots rather than drawn-out videos with elaborate plots. As the online presence of muted autoplay video continues to grow, advertisers and marketers need to recognize that, regardless of audio, there must be a connection between perceived time within the ad and emotional responses.


The movement toward muted autoplay video depends on clear visuals, but there are only a limited number of ways to make your visuals stand out on their own without further context. Subtitles and captions are key to ensure you are communicating with consumers before they abandon your video after three seconds or less. Given compelling imagery, users are bound to stop and view mid scroll if there’s text to read. Captions are a necessity for the subset of users who love spending time perusing a multitude of video content but are in an environment where they are unable to turn on the sound.

Metrics That Verify Active Attention

There are a few ways in which advertisers can leverage muted autoplay video to help define their outcomes. Immediate user actions, like turning sound on, maximizing, or hitting the rewind button, determine whether the video was successful in capturing a user’s attention. Advertisers can assess the completion rate of predetermined calls-to-action, such as purchasing a product or clicking through to the company’s website, as they influence a user’s behavior. Moreover, advertisers should measure video completion rates and whether or not they are being classified as viewable to both consumers and publishers. Even conducting a survey to measure user exposure rates to a video could yield insight into a muted video’s ability to impact brand perception. Whatever strategy is chosen, it is vital that these metrics qualify the video campaign’s outcomes at the onset.


Targeting can help solve many of the issues that are creeping up with video. Users are more likely to pay attention to video that has relevance with adjacent content. This allows publishers to advertise while maintaining a positive and relevant user experience. Furthermore, targeted ads created with specific customer segments in mind increase brand recognition among those segments.

Muted video is here to stay. Amplifying its value is now our challenge.

Guest post by Ittai Shiu, vice president of creative strategy at Exponential