Earlier this month Facebook released a number of new features for its video ads and offered up some advice on how to create better campaigns using them. Facebook says the new features are designed to help you capture the attention of users more regularly and keep them watching for longer.

There’s a clear emphasis on mobile here too, where a majority of users see Facebook video ads. So let’s take a look at the features and how you can use them to improve your video campaigns.

Automated captions for Facebook video ads

The first feature to introduce is automated captions, which you’ll soon be able to generate in Ads Manager and the Power Editor. You may well be aware you’ve been able to add captions for some time already, but the process was pretty painful.

Instead of having to embed captions or upload your own captions file, the process will now be automated for you. Okay, great. But what’s the big deal? Well, Facebook tells us a whopping 80% of mobile users react badly to sound playing automatically; they prefer to opt in.

“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.”

Source: Facebook

This shouldn’t come as a particular surprise to anyone, though. Autoplaying audio is pretty high on the list of bad practices and the subject of autoplaying video has been a learning curve for Facebook in general.

The trouble is, without audio, a large chunk of your ad’s storytelling power is rendered useless. And this is where automated captions come in, giving you a text alternative to entice viewers to watch further. It’s not a replacement for audio, but in a user environment where autoplay has negative effects, this could be the ideal compromise. In fact, Facebook claims automated captions increase viewing time by an average of 12%.

New reporting features for video ads

Advertisers have been calling on the likes of Facebook and Google to offer support for third-party reporting tools. And it’s Facebook who has stepped up to the plate first with Moat integration now fully complete. Which means you’re no longer simply relying on the numbers Facebook gives you – something we’d like to see Google, Twitter and others follow suit on.

This also comes with a new buying option that allows you to purchase 100% in-view impressions. Facebook says over 90% of video impressions are 100% in-view anyway, but the option to guarantee your ad gets seen “from top to bottom” is now available.

Tips for creating better Facebook video campaigns

In the announcement of these new features Facebook also offered up some advice to help you guys create better video campaigns. Here’s a brief summary of what the social giant had to say.

Connect with viewers instantly: This will hardly come as news to any of us, but Facebook does have some useful pointers to go along with stating the obvious:

  • Choose video thumbnails and titles that grab users’ attention.
  • Use brand logos, colours, themes and imagery so users recognise your video as yours.
  • Use your first three seconds to hook viewers in.

“We know that 65% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will watch for at least ten seconds and 45% continue watching for thirty seconds.”

Source: Facebook

Design for sound off: This point couldn’t be more important for Facebook video advertising. If a majority of users are going to see your ads without sound, then you have to factor this into your design process. Facebook says a whopping 41% of videos created by advertisers are meaningless without audio, which is incredible when you think about it.

If you only have three seconds to hook viewers into your video, you have to anticipate those three seconds will be with the sound turned off – perhaps even longer. So don’t be part of that 41% who pay for ads that get lost in the News Feed.

Experiment: Once again, not the most ground-breaking piece of advice, but Facebook does at least hint at why it’s so important. Creative storytelling combinations are a big part of effective Facebook advertising, but creating those multiple interactions can be a challenge. You probably won’t get it right the first time and you’ll certainly find more effective ways of doing it as time goes by – as long as you experiment and test results.

The good news is Facebook’s Moat integration means you now have more reliable data to base your tests on. Designing for sound off also becomes more approachable with the introduction of automated captions. And both of those should help steer you towards video campaigns that engage users more quickly and keep them watching for longer.