Snapchat: We can prove people watch mobile videos *with* sound

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Facebook has conditioned brands and media companies to believe mobile videos are best when they’re basically silent movies because they’re usually played on mute. “Not true!” according to Snapchat.

Snapchat claims that two-thirds of the videos posted to its mobile app are viewed with the sound on, the company announced on Thursday. And it’s putting its money where its mouth is by working with digital ad analytics firm Moat to measure how many of their Snapchat ad impressions were served in view to actual humans with the sound on.

That’s good news for brands like Unilever and media-buying agencies like WPP’s GroupM that have been pressing digital publishers to only sell them ads that real-life humans actually see and hear. And it’s potentially bad news for Facebook and any other publisher trying to convince brands that mobile video viewers are only interested in being shown, not told, things.

Facebook’s sales teams have been pushing advertisers to produce Facebook and Instagram video ads that can be just as easily watched with the sound off as on, to the point of rolling out a way to automatically caption their video ads. And publishers like Mic are noticing that 85 percent of the people watching their Facebook videos are doing so on mute.

But Facebook might have a hard time with that push if Snapchat’s claim holds up once brands are able to see for themselves what share of people are willing to see and hear their video ads. It might be true that Facebook’s and Instagram’s mobile video viewers, in particular, are sound-averse; both Facebook and Instagram play videos with the sound off by default. But as Snapchat’s stat shows, that doesn’t mean mobile video viewers in general are anti-audio. And that means marketers — especially big brands accustomed to people seeing and hearing their TV spots — might start asking Facebook, “Why can’t you be more like Snapchat?”


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