Facebook Tests Video Ads With Sound Automatically Turned Up

Even If 80% of People Hate It

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Despite long making the case that people don't like video ads with automatic audio, Facebook is testing exactly that.
Despite long making the case that people don't like video ads with automatic audio, Facebook is testing exactly that. Credit: Courtesy Facebook

Facebook has been testing autoplay video ads that load with the sound turned on, instead of off as usual, Facebook said Tuesday, confirming a report by Mashable of a test in Australia.

"We're running a small test in News Feed where people can choose whether they want to watch videos with sound on from the start," a Facebook spokesman said. "For people in this test who do not want sound to play, they can switch it off in Settings or directly on the video itself. This is one of several tests we're running as we work to improve the video experience for people on Facebook."

Facebook popularized autoplay video ads, but it has also made sure that their default volume was "mute" so as not to turn off users. The problem has been that most of the ads are therefore viewed silently, forcing advertisers to find creative ways to get consumers to turn on the sound -- or to build ads that work without volume.

Facebook has certainly been trying to convince advertisers that sound off is just as good as sound on if only marketers bring the right creative. Earlier this year, Facebook chided marketers with a report that 41% of video ads were still meaningless without the sound. It also reported that people hate ads that just pop up with the sound on.

"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," Facebook said in a blog post in February.

One solution has been captions.

Facebook is now contending with Snapchat as a rival for video ad dollars, however, and Snapchat's ads are more often played with the sound up. Snapchat users are accustomed to watching videos of their friends with the sounds on, and as they click through videos, ads pop up naturally with the sound already playing.

That's a message that Snapchat has been using to woo advertisers, according to marketers.

Many advertisers have been skeptical of the soundless ads, anyway. While they have been eager to create for Facebook's massive platform, they prefer their commercials to play with the volume up.

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