A few months ago, I started thinking about the fact that I consume virtually all my online video with the sound off. Whether I’m in the back of a taxi, on a plane waiting to take off, or amusing myself while waiting in line at the coffee shop, I have become incredibly adept at figuring out what a video is about using only pictures (90% of the time, on my phone).


Turns out that I’m not alone. A recent DigiDay article, surveying multiple online publishers, indicates that up to 85% of video consumed on Facebook is watched without sound. So what does that mean for anyone who ever needs to produce content (that being all businesses, as an example)? It means a new/old form of storytelling – one that marries visuals with subtitles and graphics. And when it’s done well, this can turn a 30-second clip into an unparalleled tool for getting your message across.

Unlike silent films, in which actors typically used over-the-top gestures to convey drama, sadness, etc., static in-between “intertitles” (yes, I had to Google that) gave broader context or assisted with transitions between one scene and the next. This is not that. Online video is infinitely richer. With animations, super-cuts, subtitles, graphics and a bag of other tricks, visual storytelling today is more dynamic and evocative than it has ever been. And publishers (that’s brands like SAP, too) who don’t start thinking about what their content looks like with the sound off are missing what their audiences want – silent movies.

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5 Comments

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  1. Jelena Perfiljeva

    I find that for me switching on the subtitles either for the English movies translated to Russian or vice versa provides great deal of entertainment. 🙂 But whoever did the Russian subtitles for the openSAP Fiori course did a great job, hats off!

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  2. Matt Fraser

    In fact, Facebook is already adding “automatic captions” to videos for the newsfeed for paid ad videos. They started doing this just a few months ago. You can already notice how the captions show up when you see the video “silently” in the newsfeed, whereas if you click on the video to bring it up directly, the sound comes on and the captions go away. For this reason, Facebook is in fact advising advertisers to stop putting their own captions in and instead use this new service.

    Facebook Will Start Automatically Captioning Video Ads | Digital – AdAge

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