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Facebook moves to silence pesky video ads by adding captions

Facebook wants the video ads it shows us to keep quiet, and it’s helping advertisers do it. The social networking will now automatically generate written captions for video ads that advertisers submit. The reason? Because almost everyone hates it when an ad (or almost any video) automatically plays with sound, especially on a phone.

Facebook says that nearly 80 percent of its users react negatively when an ad plays over their speakers or headphones. By keeping videos silent, it the social network’s research team thinks that we’ll watch an about 12 percent more videos, according to The Drum. To some, that might not sound like much, but every second counts to advertisers, and Facebook.

RelatedHow much do online advertisers really know about you? We asked an expert

We can expect to see more typography, graphics, and subtitles in upcoming ads on Facebook as advertisers learn how to get our attention visually.

“Numerous studies and campaigns have made it clear that capturing people’s attention at the very beginning of a video is the most effective way to advertise in a mobile feed environment,” said Matt Idema, Facebook’s vice president of monetization product marketing. “Video advertisers that tailor their creative with visuals that get people to stop scrolling and watch will drive the best business results on Facebook.”

The news comes just hours after Twitter announced its new timeline feature, which adds recommended tweets at the top of your tweet feed, if you opt in — a very Facebook-like feature. Like Facebook, Twitter is also starting to place sponsored posts and videos into people’s timelines. It’s noticing an increase in tweets and retweets with its new feature, which it hopes will make users, and advertisers, happier.

Facebook’s latest video add-on will also let advertisers see the percentage of people who have viewed their video with sound.