Why You Should Give Your Auto-play Videos the Silent Treatment

June 21st, 2016 by | No Comments

Image by J E


Getting aurally violated by a loud, auto-playing video ad while browsing online is definitely one of the more annoying experiences you can have on the Internet. But when a video’s volume default setting is set to mute, or when the ad is part of your feed rather than invading the screen, the annoyance level drops drastically. This is what social media websites have done with their silent auto-play video ads, a format that has brands and marketers eagerly investing.

Facebook launched its auto-play video ad unit in late 2013. Twitter unveiled a similar format last January, while Instagram joined in shortly thereafter. Soon, even brands like CNN, Mailchimp, and Kissmetrics are now running silent video and HTML animations on their websites.

Why silent storytelling?

Most Internet users are skimmers. Whether scrolling down their newsfeed, checking out your business pages, or browsing your website, they glance over text and images until something catches their eye or they get quick sense of your unique value proposition.

Silent auto-play videos are a powerful and unobtrusive means of communication, allowing you to create a stand-in for a real salesperson who provides would-be customers a visual understanding of your product. The idea is to make the videos on social platforms “volume-agnostic”, a term coined by Steven Belser, NowThis VP of Production and Creative, meaning viewers should have the option to watch videos both with audio and without it.

Best practices

Catering for silent auto-play calls for holding back on dialogue or sound and instead creating something that people can understand through visuals alone. Unmuting the video should add to the experience, but viewers should get the drift without any sound. Also, experiment with the impact of a screen-grab or a teaser. The first few frames should be something that will get people to stop and linger long enough for the video to continue playing. Using simple, bold text is helpful as well—not too much that text detracts or overwhelms, but just enough to put visuals in context.

About the author:
Jehan S. Ismael is a full-time writer and editor for a leading Internet Marketing firm. She has a love-hate relationship with food, likes to listen to rock and rap music, and enjoys reading books by self-absorbed writers like J.D. Salinger and Anthony Bourdain.

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